RWC 2019 Pool Game 20: All Blacks tick over nicely against Canada

Not only did three brothers start for New Zealand for the first time ever in a Rugby World Cup match, but all three scored as well, as the All Blacks put away Canada 63-0 with the minimum of fuss in Oita yesterday, racking up nine tries in the process.

Talented siblings Beauden, Scott and Jordie Barrett carved their own slice of history, lending their weight to a dominant attacking display from New Zealand that resembled a training run at times, such was the disparity between the two teams.

This was never likely to be a genuine contest given Canada’s current standing in the world game, but while the Canucks offered scant resistance for much of the 80 minutes other than a late rally in the final quarter, they never threw in the towel. As the saying goes, you can only beat what’s in front of you, and the All Blacks didn’t hold back in putting their opposition to the sword, and clicking nicely through the gears as they continue to build for the knockout stages.

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The All Blacks set their stall out early, claiming their own kick-off with two of the three Barrett’s involved – Beauden to Scott. And eight rapid-fire phases with pitch-perfect handling later, they were under the posts, only for referee Romain Poite to rule they had been held up.

Momentum was briefly halted by three reset scrums five metres in front of the posts. But at the fourth time of asking, the New Zealand pack marched their counterparts backwards with enough dominance for Poite to signal a penalty try, sparing Kieran Read’s blushes as he fluffed his lines with the ball at his feet and a try begging.

They were in again before 10 minutes, a few damaging carries sucking in a bevy of Canadian defenders before a pinpoint crossfield kick – a popular weapon of choice at this World Cup – from Richie Mo’unga fell into the grateful arms of Jordie Barrett, for one of the easiest tries of his burgeoning career.

Slick hands down the line almost ended with Jordie putting Beauden over, but the youngest of the three celebrated siblings couldn’t get his offload away before being ushered into touch. And the Canucks needed intervention from the TMO to keep another one off the scoreboard when TJ Perenara dived spectacularly for the corner on the opposite flank, only to fall short by a couple of blades of grass.

But the pressure was relentless, and the reigning champions made it three before the end of the first quarter. This time Sonny Bill Williams was the benefactor of the bump and grind from the forwards that got him on the front-foot, but he still made the finish look ridiculously easy with a dummy, step and stretch for the line.

However, some rare poor handling from the evergreen 34-year-old after the restart gave Canada their first foray into the opposition half, and they were very close to making it count. The initial benefactor was scrumhalf Gordon McRorie, who carried 20 metres before offloading in traffic for Lucas Rumball to send flyhalf Peter Nelson away, and his jinking run in and out of last man Beauden Barrett almost got him to the line, but the star fullback was just too quick, and brought his man to ground.

A penalty from the ensuing ruck kept the Canucks in the hunt, and they opted for the lineout drive, only for the All Blacks maul defence to step up and squash their hopes with a turnover. But they continued to hustle, enjoying a few more incursions upfield whilst feasting off a few handling errors that were beginning to creep into New Zealand’s game.

Given the daunting opening by their opponent’s, getting to the half hour mark with no further damage was a minor victory for Canada. Although the All Blacks – or more specifically Scott Barrett – did butcher a bonus point fourth try, when he burst through a gap from 10 metres to dive home but lost the ball forward as he grounded.

However, it wasn’t long before they were in again, Sonny Bill showing his all-round game with a deft grubber in behind off a set lineout play, and Beauden Barrett racing onto the bounce to dot down for a healthy 28-0 advantage at half-time.

If Canada were hoping their opponents might put the cue in the rack in the second half having already secured the bonus point, it took just a minute of the restart to be reminded of how ruthless the All Blacks are when they have their foot on the throat.

A terrific take in the air from a soaring Jordie Barrett was soon cleared from the ensuing ruck as he hit the ground. Going through the hands like clockwork the ball reached Sonny Bill, who glided in between two defenders, raced 40 metres, and shipped it wide for Rieko Ioane to finish in the corner.

It was 42-0 by the 45th minute, Mo’unga dummying through the line and offloading to skipper Read who had Scott Barrett on his inside, and this time he made no mistake. Three Barrett’s on the field, three Barrett’s on the scoreboard.

Ioane turned creator for try number seven finished by Shannon Frizell, and a searing run from the back from Beauden Barrett split a fast-fading Canadian defence before he put replacement halfback Brad Weber away for number eight. But the black wave just kept coming, the Canucks unable to get any possession to stem the tide and being picked off with impunity by every attack.

It was 63-0 before the hour, a set play from a scrum on halfway seeing Jordie Barrett and Mo’unga combining to send Weber through a gap, and away for his second. At that point you wondered if they would reach a century of points, such was their level of dominance and hunger to maintain the pain.

However, having ticked along at over a point a minute, the scoreboard suddenly dried up, and the reason was two-fold. Firstly, the All Blacks showed they were indeed human by actually dropping a few balls, over-running a few support lines, and misplacing a few passes. Secondly, Canada dredged some fresh resilience from the depths of their collective browbeaten souls, and began to make their tackles, add plenty of bite to them for good measure, and go down swinging.

As a result, with five minutes to go it was still 63-0, and the crowd were now baying for a consolation score from the men in red. Three times in the closing stages they found themselves inside the New Zealand 22, but they couldn’t find a way to break down the door. And they should have conceded another when Beauden Barrett went the length of the field with a minute to go, only to match his brother’s earlier effort by dropping it cold. Even he could afford to laugh it off.

Nine tries in all then, and while this wasn’t exactly a stern test of their title credentials, it did offer plenty more reasons to suggest that if any team can beat the All Blacks at this tournament, they probably win the World Cup. Next up for them… Namibia. Oh dear.

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NEW ZEALAND 63 (Penalty Try, Brad Weber 2, Jordie Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams, Beauden Barrett, Rieko loane, Scott Barrett, Shannon Frizell tries; Richie Mo’unga 8 cons)  defeated CANADA 0 HT 28-0 at Oita Stadium

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