New Zealand ran in 11 tries as they smashed minnows Namibia 71-9 at the World Cup on Sunday, putting the defending champions on the brink of a quarter-final place.
The All Blacks did not have everything their own way in the first half, the plucky Namibians holding them within a point after 30 minutes, but New Zealand ran riot in the second period as the underdogs tired.
Namibia battled to within a point at 10-9 after half an hour before the two-time defending champions accelerated away to eclipse their 58-14 victory over the Welwitschias at the 2015 World Cup.
It put the All Blacks top of Pool B after three games, with one more to come against Italy next Saturday as the quarter-finals beckon. Second-placed South Africa round off their pool matches against Canada on Tuesday.
Namibia are the World Cup’s undisputed whipping boys, after never winning a game in the competition and suffering embarrassing defeats like 142-0 against Australia in 2003.
The last time they beat a Tier One nation was Ireland in 1991, but they turned up to play at a cool, windswept Tokyo Stadium and were first on the board through a Damian Stevens penalty after two minutes.
New Zealand’s Jordie Barrett, in his first start at flyhalf, put in Sevu Reece with an assured cross-field kick just three minutes later, but then missed the conversion.
Anton Lienert-Brown stormed through a gap and fended off two defenders for New Zealand’s second try on 20 minutes, but Barrett scuffed his conversion once again.
The All Blacks were finding it hard going against the physical Namibians, who twice worked their way up field and won a pair of penalties which Stevens knocked over to take them to only 10-9 down after half-an-hour.
All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Stevens, and Brodie Retallick’s comeback after a dislocated shoulder lasted just 30 minutes as there were uncomfortable moments for the world champions.
But Angus Ta’avao, minutes after coming on for Sam Cane, dived over for their third try and fullback Ben Smith added a fourth after the half-time gong to make it 24-9 at the break.
Joe Moody barrelled over just a minute after the restart before Barrett created a wonderful try, storming through a gap, exchanging passes with Jack Goodhue and putting Lienert-Brown over in the corner.
Reece grabbed his second try with a trademark injection of pace down the right flank, and captain Sam Whitelock added another as the score ballooned out to 52-9 after 56 minutes.
Lienert-Brown’s back-of-the-hand offload set up Smith’s second try before Ofa Tuungafasi became New Zealand’s second player in the sin-bin, again for a high tackle.
Barrett rediscovered his kicking boots in the second half, nailing eight conversions and capping a fine all-round performance with a late try as he finished with a personal haul of 21 points.
TJ Perenara was awarded the All Blacks’ 11th and final try after a lengthy review, just before the gong.
The All Blacks extend their record World Cup winning streak to 17 matches dating back to the 2007 quarter-finals – while Namibia go to 22 straight defeats, the longest losing run in the tournament’s history.
Pens: Stevens 3
For New Zealand:
Tries: Reece 2, Lienert-Brown 2, Ta’avao, Smith 2, Moody, Whitelock, Barrett, Perenara
Cons: Barrett 8
Yellow cards: Nepo Laulala (New Zealand, 30 – foul play), Ofa Tu’ungafasi (New Zealand, 71 – foul play)
Namibia: 15 Johan Tromp, 14 Lesley Klim, 13 Justin Newman, 12 Johan Deysel (captain), 11 JC Greyling, 10 Helarius Axasman Kisting, 9 Damian Stevens, 8 Janco Venter, 7 Thomasau Forbes, 6 Prince Gaoseb, 5 Tjiuee Uanivi, 4 PJ Van Lill, 3 AJ De Klerk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Andre Rademeyer.
Replacements: 16 Obert Nortjé, 17 Nelius Theron, 18 Aranos Coetzee, 19 Johan Retief, 20 Adriaan Booysen, 21 Eugene Jantjies, 22 Darryl De La Harpe, 23 Janry du Toit.
New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 George Bridge, 10 Jordie Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Brad Weber, 22 TJ Perenara, 23 Rieko Ioane.
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
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