With one week remaining until the first test of the DHL Lions Series, the All Blacks have had a perfect appetizer, after convincingly thrashing Samoa in the Pacifika Challenge. 12 tries to nil, and a convincing scoreline that read 78-0.
That was the end result in front of a modest crowd at Eden Park in Auckland. Samoa were unlucky to not get any points on the board, but they played a typically defiant style of rugby in front of much stronger opposition.
Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara and Ardie Savea all scored two tries. Their All Black mates rallied around them by scoring a further eight, as the wave a scoring action almost broke new records.
All Blacks Thrash Samoa In One-Sided Pacifika Challenge
A near full-strength All Blacks said that they expected a firm challenge from Samoa. Steve Hansen said during the week that his side were approaching the encounter as if it were a serious test match and not a token warm-up for what’s to come.
But perhaps even Hansen would’ve been taken a little aback by how Samoa dominated proceedings in the opening 20-minutes. It took two very big scares for the All Blacks to ‘get into gear’, and they responded accordingly.
Four converted tries in the first half – two of which from ‘pure luck’ but the latter from brilliant execution of set play. At the break, the All Blacks held a 28-0 lead – though that didn’t tell the story of the opening International.
As the game went on, the All Blacks went from strength to strength as the points piled up. All the usual suspects found their way to the try line, and after much discussion prior to the match, Beauden Barrett had a solid night from the kicking tee.
All Blacks 78
Tries: Anton Lienert-Brown, Beauden Barrett (2), Ardie Savea (2), Sonny Bill Williams, Israel Dagg, Julian Savea, Codie Taylor, Vaea Fifita, TJ Perenara (2), Sam Cane
Conversions: Barrett (7), Sopoaga (2)
Steve Hansen Reflects On Dominant Performance At Eden Park
The All Blacks coach was content but not jubilant when speaking to the media after the game. His side had just put on one of the best opening test performances of a season in many years – but Hansen admitted that a lot of work was yet to be done.
“We got a nice run and had some good combinations but we’ve a lot of work ahead of us. They’ve had no rugby for five weeks so you can’t read too much into it”.
The night also saw two men make their All Black debuts. Vaea Fifita, and the much talked about Jordie Barrett. But it was Fifita who notched points first, scoring on one of his first touches in International Rugby.
If there was any doubt about it – there certainly won’t be now. The All Blacks are ready for whatever the British and Irish Lions have to offer in a weeks time.
Wales Beat Tonga In Pacifika Challenge Curtain-Raiser
Earlier in the night, Wales managed to power past Tonga 24-6.
The Welsh had a lot of their best players and their regular coach on Lions duty, so a performance that underwhelmed wouldn’t have been a surprise to many, and that’s exactly what happened.
Thee depth of Welsh rugby was on show though as the side still had services of the Davies brothers, Gareth Anscombe, Scott Williams (see below), and Jamie Roberts just to name a few.
But the performance was average from Wales. Their opponents couldn’t handle the ball in wet conditions but played their traditional flare of rugby – not shying away from running out of their own 22-metre line.
The exclamation point was put down when Tonga conceded a penalty try for deliberately pulling down the maul on their own line.
Eden Park Warms Up for the Next Two Test Fixtures
The crowd was not outstanding, but the real test that Eden Park will be filled for, are on June 24 and July 8. When those two dates come around, the stadium will be full, to overflowing.
And with the All Blacks in this form, Last Word on Rugby are looking forward to the next challenge.