Double delight for Bridge on debut

BODY ON THE LINE: New Zealand’s Gareth Evans goes high, with support from Liam Coltman, to secure possession against Japan. AP picture

Centre Ngani Laumape grabbed a hat trick and first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga scored his first test try among 22 points as a second-string All Blacks team overwhelmed Japan 69-31 in their one-off rugby test.

Mo’unga also kicked a penalty and converted seven of New Zealand’s 10 tries — eight goals from nine attempts — to emerge as a leading figure in a match in which 15 tries were scored, five by Japan.

Winger George Bridge scored two tries on test debut, centre Matt Proctor also scored in his first test for the All Blacks while hooker Dane Coles marked his return from a 12-month injury break with New Zealand’s first try.

Other tries for New Zealand went to halfback Te Toiroa Tehuriorangi, winger Waisake Naholo and Mo’unga as a team containing eight new caps stretched New Zealand’s unbeaten run against Japan to seven tests.

Centre Timothy Lafaele scored two tries for Japan, who trailed 38-19 at halftime. Samuela Anise and Hendrick Tui also scored tries for the Brave Blossoms while New Zealand-born Jamie Henry touched down on debut.

New Zealand rested their top 23 players ahead of tests against England and Ireland over the next two weekends

The most impressive of the newcomers was Bridge who came off the bench to score his double and to create a debut try for Proctor.

Laumape was man of the match for his outstanding performance in midfield but Mo’unga was not far behind with a commanding performance.

While the win was emphatic, it would previously have been unthinkable for world No. 1 New Zealand to concede five tries to 11th-ranked Japan.

“At times we played quite well but maybe just lapsed a couple of times and credit to the way they played, they capitalised on those chances,” All Blacks captain Luke Whitelock said.

“We had a lot of new guys coming in but the boys did well and everyone went out there and did themselves proud.

“A lot of guys got their debuts today, came on and brought some energy and did well.”

While New Zealand scored the opening points from a Mo’unga penalty, Japan had the first try of the match after only four minutes through lock Samuela Anise who charged down and reclaimed a clearing kick by All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett.

Coles scored New Zealand’s first try in the 14th minute after a breakout by Proctor and winger Nehe Milner-Skudder, put in space by a long pass from Laumape.

Bridge’s arrival from the bench sharpened their attack. He scored in the 47th minute from a lineout turnover.

He added his second to put the result beyond doubt but didn’t quench the spirit of Japan who scored again through Lafaele to have the honour of scoring the first and last tries of the match. — AP

Centre Ngani Laumape grabbed a hat trick and first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga scored his first test try among 22 points as a second-string All Blacks team overwhelmed Japan 69-31 in their one-off rugby test.

Mo’unga also kicked a penalty and converted seven of New Zealand’s 10 tries — eight goals from nine attempts — to emerge as a leading figure in a match in which 15 tries were scored, five by Japan.

Winger George Bridge scored two tries on test debut, centre Matt Proctor also scored in his first test for the All Blacks while hooker Dane Coles marked his return from a 12-month injury break with New Zealand’s first try.

Other tries for New Zealand went to halfback Te Toiroa Tehuriorangi, winger Waisake Naholo and Mo’unga as a team containing eight new caps stretched New Zealand’s unbeaten run against Japan to seven tests.

Centre Timothy Lafaele scored two tries for Japan, who trailed 38-19 at halftime. Samuela Anise and Hendrick Tui also scored tries for the Brave Blossoms while New Zealand-born Jamie Henry touched down on debut.

New Zealand rested their top 23 players ahead of tests against England and Ireland over the next two weekends

The most impressive of the newcomers was Bridge who came off the bench to score his double and to create a debut try for Proctor.

Laumape was man of the match for his outstanding performance in midfield but Mo’unga was not far behind with a commanding performance.

While the win was emphatic, it would previously have been unthinkable for world No. 1 New Zealand to concede five tries to 11th-ranked Japan.

“At times we played quite well but maybe just lapsed a couple of times and credit to the way they played, they capitalised on those chances,” All Blacks captain Luke Whitelock said.

“We had a lot of new guys coming in but the boys did well and everyone went out there and did themselves proud.

“A lot of guys got their debuts today, came on and brought some energy and did well.”

While New Zealand scored the opening points from a Mo’unga penalty, Japan had the first try of the match after only four minutes through lock Samuela Anise who charged down and reclaimed a clearing kick by All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett.

Coles scored New Zealand’s first try in the 14th minute after a breakout by Proctor and winger Nehe Milner-Skudder, put in space by a long pass from Laumape.

Bridge’s arrival from the bench sharpened their attack. He scored in the 47th minute from a lineout turnover.

He added his second to put the result beyond doubt but didn’t quench the spirit of Japan who scored again through Lafaele to have the honour of scoring the first and last tries of the match. — AP

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