Barrett brothers star as All Blacks maul Canada
All three Barrett brothers got on the scoresheet as reigning champions New Zealand stormed to their second victory of the Rugby World Cup with a 63-0 bonus point mauling of Canada at Oita Stadium on Wednesday.
The All Blacks defied the humid conditions to cross four times in the first half and added five more after the break to move into second place behind Italy in Pool B with matches against Namibia and the Italians to come.
Although a long way from their record World Cup win – a 145-17 thrashing of Japan in 2007 – it was only the second time New Zealand had shut out an opponent at the World Cup after their 40-0 defeat of Scotland in 2007.
Winger Jordie and his fullback brother Beauden crossed in the first half with the third sibling, lock Scott, scoring his try after the break as the Barretts became the first trio of brothers to play for New Zealand at a World Cup.
The New Zealanders recorded the biggest win on the 2019 tournament to date despite missing a string of near-certain scores in the slippery conditions.
“It was a pretty good performance when you break it down,” said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
“I thought, particularly, that first part of the second half, they really came together and played good, controlled rugby.
“We’ve just got to turn that first 20 minutes of the second half into 80 minutes. If we can do that we won’t be that far away.”
All Blacks captain Kieran Read, however, could face a nervous 24 hours with the number eight appearing not to use his arms in a tackle on Lucas Rumball in the first half that was not picked up by Romain Poite.
Hansen had spoken at length about using their last three pool matches to fine-tune their game ahead of the knockout phase and he would have been mostly pleased, especially with the first and third quarters of play.
They played with pace and width, exploited space when it was available and the dual playmakers of Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga grew their combination behind a dominant pack and quick delivery from scrumhalves TJ Perenara and Brad Weber.
Inside centre Sonny Bill Williams was also a huge problem for Canada centres Conor Trainor and Ciaran Hearn, constantly making ground and drawing more than one defender but still able to get his characteristic passes away out of contact.
He also provided a deft kick-through for Beauden Barrett to secure the bonus point shortly before halftime to give the All Blacks a 28-0 lead at the break.
Hansen may have been disappointed as his side bombed at least four other tries in the first half through poor handling, with Scott Barrett the most obvious transgressor when he dropped the ball when he was over the tryline.
But he said: “It was difficult conditions, people at home will be wondering why they were dropping a few balls, it was really, really difficult so I think they’ve done well.”
They flicked the switch after the break, however, and doubled their score inside the first 10 minutes with tries to Rieko Ioane, Scott Barrett, Shannon Frizell and Weber as they opened up the tiring Canadian defence at will.
Weber, who made his All Blacks debut four years ago then found himself in the international wilderness until this year, grabbed his second in the 56th minute to give his side a 63-0 lead and they looked like they could threaten a century of points.
The handling errors that had blighted the second quarter, however, returned in the final 20 minutes and they did not cross again.
I was happy with the heart,” said Canada captain Ardron. “We had a little slip-up at the start of that second half, but other than that, man, I’m really proud to be Canadian today, that was a hell of an effort from the boys.
“When you give them the ball, they’re pretty tough to defend.”
The All Blacks wore black armbands after the death of former lock Stan ‘Tiny’ Hill was announced earlier on Wednesday. Hill, who was once dropped by the All Blacks for being overly physical in a provincial game against South Africa, was 92.