Thirteen-try All Blacks beat Japan
HAMILTON, 16 Sept. - New Zealand's stand-in captain Keven Mealamu said Friday night's 83-7 win over Japan was an improvement on the All Blacks' opening victory over Tonga, but admitted the hosts still had work to do.
New Zealand overwhelmed the Brave Blossoms in their Pool A match at Waikato Stadium, running in 13 tries.
Mealamu, who led the team in the absence of the injured Richie McCaw, said: "The big thing this week was that we wanted to improve (on the 41-10 win over Tonga last week).
"We have improved a lot but we still have a few things we can get better on.
"We have some talented boys who can play in different positions and we're building smoothly, but next week (against France) is a big step up."
Japan captain Takashi Kikutani said: "It was an honour to play in this game. It was hard but the All Blacks are a great team.
"As you know Japan and New Zealand suffered with the earthquakes and this game meant a lot for us."
Play at pace
The All Blacks had too much power and control for Japan, who attempted to play the match at pace, but in so doing made too many basic errors.
The Japanese were game in the tackle but the size and strength of New Zealand meant their efforts were often brushed aside.
The All Blacks led 38-0 at half-time. The big lead had been built by tries from Richard Kahui, Jerome Kaino, Mealamu, Conrad Smith, Andy Ellis and Colin Slade, who added four conversions.
Kahui, with his second, Sonny Bill Williams for his first All Blacks try, Isaia Toeava, Andrew Hore and Ma'a Nonu touched down in the second half.
In the middle of these came some joy for Japanese supporters when Hirotoki Onozawa intercepted an attempted offload from Slade and ran 40 metres to dot down.
A good conversion from Murray Williams made the score at that stage 59-7.
Japan got over the All Blacks line again in the 70th minute but the try was ruled out for a forward pass.
However, the penultimate act of the game was a slick move that ended with flanker Adam Thomson scoring, and two minutes later Williams scored his second try of the night by chasing down a speculative kick to the try-line.
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