OITA, 2 Oct - Jordie, Beauden and Scott Barrett made rugby history as they became the first trio of brothers to score a try in the same World Cup match.
It proved to be the headline family act in New Zealand's superb 63-0 defeat of Canada on a hothouse of a Wednesday night under the Oita Stadium roof.
The world champions, resuming their quest for a third straight title after an 11-day break from action, mixed familiar spells of rare brilliance with some ball-handling mistakes in the humid conditions in the first half of this Pool B encounter.
But, inspired by their superb play-making double act of Beauden Barrett and Player of the Match Richie Mo'unga, they were quite irresistible for 16 minutes after the break as they ran the poor Canucks ragged with some sumptuous attacking quality resulting in five quick tries.
New Zealand carried the ball for 906 metres, more than any other team at RWC 2019 so far, with Beauden Barrett magnificent in both defence and attack. He covered 169 metres and made three scintillating breaks as he led his younger siblings to a wonderful piece of World Cup history.
The youngest brother, Jordie, scored within 10 minutes, Beauden struck just before half-time and though Scott looked to have ruined the family script when he dropped the ball just as he was about to ground it over the try-line in the first half, he made amends by ploughing over soon after the break.
"When you're blessed, you're blessed - and the three of them are blessed," said coach Steve Hansen. "Their parents should be pretty proud tonight."
Mum and dad were back home on their dairy farm in Taranaki but they were quick to get in touch and congratulate the lads.
"We're very happy and proud and it's just great to be out there at one time and share some pretty special moments together," said Beauden, pictured above right talking with brother Scott after the match. "Dad's sitting at home, drinking his Guinness - he's pretty happy."
What Kevin ‘Smiley’ Barrett will have seen was an outstanding performance from a team who made it all look preposterously easy but for the slippery handling conditions.
They steamrollered the courageous but outclassed Canucks with an early penalty try, the scores from the Barrett boys, a double for the excellent second-half replacement scrum-half Brad Weber, and others for Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane and Shannon Frizell.
A crowd of 34,411 in the 40,000-seat arena, most of whom were dressed in black to hail their heroes, had been waiting in rain outside the stadium dome for several hours before kick-off to get a glimpse of the champions.
They were rewarded with some sublime fare, followed by another wonderful scene from this special World Cup, as the two sets of players joined together after the match to all bow to the crowd.
Nothing they had seen could have persuaded them that Steve Hansen’s side cannot go all the way here in Japan.
The demanding Hansen was left satisfied, despite some of his side’s handling errors. "It was a pretty good performance when you break it down," he said.
"The humidity is unbelievable, whilst people at home will be wondering why they're dropping a few balls, it's very very difficult..."— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 2, 2019
Steve Hansen happy with @AllBlacks performance in testing Japan conditions.#NZLvCAN #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/PUgABBgRm9
It was a fitting performance to mark the passing of a great All Black, Stanley 'Tiny' Hill, with the players all wearing armbands to salute the man who died on Wednesday at the age of 92.
"I think they’re as good as ever," said Tyler Ardron, the excellent Canadian captain. "I give them every shot to win this tournament. They were impressive."
The pattern was set swiftly when, after an age was taken to set the scrum, the All Blacks pack ploughed through with their first drive. Even though Kieran Read seemed to make a hash of the pick-up at the base, referee Romain Poite awarded a penalty try with just five minutes gone.
Jordie Barrett was soon quickly freed on the right wing by Mo'unga’s superb cross-field kick to trot in for the simplest try before Williams, looking back to something near his best, smashed through a challenge in midfield to land his sixth World Cup score.
At 21-0 after 17 minutes, it looked hopeless for the Canucks but an interception led to fly-half Peter Nelson haring off on a weaving run until he was brought down agonisingly close to the line by a last-ditch Beauden Barrett tackle. Not a soul in the stadium would have begrudged Canada a try.
Plenty of sloppiness followed, with the ball, described the previous day by Ardron as being like a bar of soap in the humid conditions, being spilled liberally by both teams.
Scott Barrett could hardly believe it when he dropped the ball in the act of piling over just after the half-hour but big brother Beauden then snaffled the fourth, bonus-point try, latching on to Williams's delicate grubber.
At 28-0 down at the break, Canada may have reflected that it could have been an awful lot worse. It soon was. Weber, a very effective half-time replacement for an under-par TJ Perenara, was instrumental in their blistering start after the interval when New Zealand scored four in the space of 11 minutes, including the historic one for Scott Barrett.
Ioane, perhaps the world's best winger for two straight years until a barren spell this season left him sidelined, took the chance to remind everyone of his quality with a try after the break within 43 seconds, while Mo'unga controlled affairs superbly, kicking all eight of his conversions.
Frizell, who only joined the team late after an injury to Luke Jacobson, capped an outstanding display with a try. The electric little Weber, on his World Cup debut, made a strong case for becoming the All Blacks' number two scrum-half behind Aaron Smith with his two clinical finishes on the break.
For the brave Canucks, already defeated 48-7 by Italy, it was a case of holding on for grim life but at least they were spared the dazzling Beauden Barrett hitting them with a 10th try when he spilled the ball with the try line at his mercy.
Canada showed considerable resolve in not conceding a point in the last 22 minutes. "They showed true Canadian grit, every one of them can look themselves in the mirror and be proud of their performance tonight," said coach Kingsley Jones.