The All Blacks have laid out an emphatic pre-World Cup statement this afternoon in Hamilton, beating Tonga 92-7.
It was a 14-tries to one performance, highlighted by four tries to winger George Bridge. The game was an entertaining one for the 23,000 strong crowd at FMG Stadium Waikato, with many families and children taking advantage of the afternoon kickoff time.
The All Blacks even voluntarily dropped themselves down to 14 men for the last 15 minutes of the game, bringing Ryan Crotty from the field after they had used up all their substitutions. They were then very lucky to not be reduced to 13 when Jordie Barrett was deemed to not have committed foul play late in the game as well.
Sevu Reece opened the scoring after an entertaining first 10 minutes, but after that it was just one-way traffic. Ben Smith, Kieran Read, TJ Perenara and Bridge all getting over in the first 40.
Bridge then scored within seconds of the restart, catching the kickoff and running away 30 metres to score in the corner. The kick was made by Josh Ioane, who was given the entire second 40 to impress on debut.
He put in a lot of nice touches, which would have eased a few minds heading into the World Cup. Ioane is the back up if anything happens to Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga between now and the World Cup final.
The biggest cheer of the day went to the Tongans, though, when captain Siale Piutau crashed over late in the game.
Most importantly though, the All Blacks got through the game without any injuries. There had been a lot of talk during the week about the physicality of the Tongans, however, it is obvious their defensive patterns need a fair bit of work before their first World Cup match against England on the 22nd.
In all, it is exactly what the All Blacks needed before they leave for Japan on Monday. A much more difficult test awaits in two weeks when they face the Springboks in Yokohama.
All Blacks 92 (G Bridge 4, B Smith 2, R Crotty 2, C Taylor, K Read, TJ Perenara, M Todd, A Savea tries; B Barrett 7 con, J Ioane 4 con)
Tonga 7 (S Piutau try, T Takalua con)
HT: 54-0 All Blacks