Plenty of positives from Tokyo try fest - Kayes

Ngani Laumape 1566172181

In a Test that saw the All Blacks dispel suggestions they’d disrespected Japan and the occasion by naming a side missing 23 players who are already in London, several made the most of the chance they were given. 


Laumape was his usual wrecking machine with the ball in hand but showed he’s more than that with a long cut out pass for Dane Coles to score and then deft chip kicks for his own try and one for Bridge.

He was the perfect foil to Richie Mo’unga who was again calm, organised and dynamic at first five.

As a combination they were far too much for Japan and while Mo’unga’s must be safely in the World Cup squad, Laumape showed he can’t be discounted.

He’s far from a one trick pony and along with Anton Lienert Brown and Jack Goodhue, is heaping pressure on Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty.

Add to that the return to Super Rugby of Ma’a Nonu with the Blues. Nonu can be an enigmatic character but I’m hearing reports he is keen to have a crack at what would be his fourth World Cup.

That’s only good for the All Blacks but it’s certainly going to be tough picking the midfielders to return to Japan next year.

Bridge did all he could in a second half debut that saw him score twice, set up another try and scramble reasonably well on defence.

Suggestions he’s the next Ben Smith are a bit premature but he is certainly a quality wing with pace, an eye for a gap and the ability to know when to pass or have a go.

It was reassuring to see Coles return and play well, and he must surely be a contender for the bench at Twickenham. 

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi was also impressive with a swift and accurate pass plus a sound running game and an eye for an opportunity.

He will be an All Black for a fair few years to come.

It was also good to see Dalton Papalii and Dillon Hunt get a run. Both are quality opensides and with his height, he is 6ft 4, Papalii offers a decent line out option along with his strong defence.

Jackson Hemopo was another who took his chance and with his damaging runs, good defence and lineout work is a genuine option as a lock and six.

While there were plenty of positives from this Test - the All Blacks did score 69 points against a side who beat South Africa at the last World Cup - there a few areas of concern.

The 31 points conceded was alarming. Sure this was a rather make shift side but that’s still the fifth most points the All Blacks have conceded since 2010.

The defence needs to tighten up especially with Ireland now just around the corner.

And spare a thought for Nehe Milner-Skudder who left the match at halftime with yet another shoulder injury. The bloke deserves a break - of the lucky kind.

Ngani Laumape 1566172181




Jim Kayes

Jim Kayes has been covering rugby since the late 1990s across print/online, radio and television with The Dominion Post,, TV3 and Newshub, Radio Live and Radio Sport. He's been to five World Cups, covered almost 200 All Blacks Tests and was on safari with the Lions when the British and Irish side last toured New Zealand, in 2005.


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