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All Blacks' second half control turns game

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Lynn McConnell     05 Nov 2017     Getty Images

Three tries in six minutes midway through the second half turned around the 10-17 half-time deficit to subdue a Barbarians side spearheaded by flankers Steven Luatua in the first half and Kwagga Smith in the second.

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There was a typical Barbarians flourish to end the game, a place kick penalty kicked across field and secured by wing Vince Aso, and which ended in fullback George Bridge scoring his second try.

While down on experience up front, the All Blacks were united in the key moments where lock Luke Romano had a big game and hooker Nathan Harris led the way in what was a demanding defensive effort against the lively Barbarians side.

The Barbarians made an impact in the first half, dominating possession and position and scoring three tries to two. The continuity for a scratch team was impressive and South African hooker Adriaan Strauss and tighthead prop Atu Moli thrived in some of the tight quarter player while Luatua was rampant in the loose.

Unable to secure regular ball the All Blacks were playing catch-up from an early stage and their risk-taking created errors under the pressure.

Mo'unga made his mark early, following an initial break which saw him halted just short of the line but then in the follow-up, after driving work from Strauss and Moli, he drifted wide on the blind side and took the pass from halfback Andy Ellis to score in the eighth minute.
The All Blacks responded with flanker Vaea Fifita being fed into a gap out in the centres to set the crowd of 62,456 alight with a storming run but they were unable to build on it and with skipper first five-eighths Beauden Barrett off for a blood bin they attacked into the Barbarians 22m area.

But a long pass from halfback TJ Perenara was picked off by Luatua and he charged downfield and while dragged in he got the ball to Bridge who scored in the 15th minute.

Moments later, at the re-start, the Barbarians knocked the ball on and from the scrum, Perenara worked the blind. Wing Waisake Naholo was strong on a narrow sideline channel and when tackled slipped a superb ball back to Perenara who went over wide out.

Another Luatua intercept, again off a Perenara pass which wasn't pulled in by wing Seta Tamanivalu took play into the All Blacks 22m area and having conceded two defensive penalties, the Barbarians used their big men to set up the pick-and-goes which resulted in a 29th minute try for lock Sam Carter.

Naholo's strength was to the fore again five minutes from half-time when he capped good work by Perenara and Barrett in running the ball into the Barbarians 22m. When Barrett was caught on the blindside he slipped the ball to Naholo, who worked his way clear through tackles before slipping the ball to Fifita who scored.
The All Blacks looked to start the second half by building structure but penalties just short of the line denied them while Smith came into action more with some stunning running, although the play was brought back for an earlier penalty, some strong tackling and clever ball handling.

However, when they applied their forward power, through a lineout drive and a subsequent scrum five metres out from the line, it was the power of second five-eighths Ngani Laumape who barged through under the posts to score in the 53rd minute.

Then, from the restart, a high kick was not held by Mo'unga and Naholo was onto it quickly to take play into the Barbarians 22 where he was cut down by Bridge. But in recovering the ball it was Laumape out wide, who took the ball to the line, and from the ruck replacement flanker Sam Cane powered over for the try that gave the All Blacks the lead for the first time in the game after 55 minutes.

Again positive play from the re-start saw Kerr-Barlow lobb a high kick into the 22m area where Bridge was beaten by the bounce allowing Harris to secure the ball and score.

Scorers: Barbarians 22 (Richie Mo'unga, George Bridge 2, Sam Carter tries; Mo'unga con) New Zealand 31 ( TJ Perenara, Vaea Fifita, Ngani Laumape, Sam Cane, Nathan Harris tries; Beauden Barrett 3 con ). HT: 17-10