As the All Blacks beat Japan in Tokyo, fans of rugby would have been impressed by both the efforts of many new All Blacks faces, as well as the brave effort from the hosts. It was a fine display of open-play rugby, with 100 points scored between the two sides.
Even purists, who believe you must always take the points on offer; from a penalty or a try, would have applauded the spirit of the match. Each side played the game in a positive mindset, with Japan competing up to the 80th minute, even when behind on the scoreboard.
The five-tries-to-ten result, will go down as a 31-69 defeat, though for the near-sellout crowd of 43,751. They will have been pleased, with the raised voices and cheers of delight whenever Japan were on the advantage, gave them something to cheer about. The respectful Asian sports fan applauded the visitors too, who are more acquainted at running rugby but, they came up against a team on Saturday who were just as prepared to run the ball – and the game was all the better for it.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 3, 2018
A display of open-play Rugby, as All Blacks beat Japan
Importantly for Japan, the occasion was celebrated. With the 2019 Rugby World Cup only 10 months away, the numbers and the type of game played, will be positive. Even while two successive losses will not be hoped for, the atmosphere shows how the Asian sports fan is likely to embrace the 2019 tournament.
Still, the brutal reality is that 69 points were run-up by an All Blacks side, boasting many relatively inexperienced, and debut players. Some might imagine what the first-pick 23 will have accumulated – but the aim was to exhibit the sport.
And to that end, Japan rugby was the winner in the hearts of fans.
Highlights will demonstrate how the game started with a huge effort from Japanese lock Samuela Anise (see image at page bottom), who charged down a Jordie Barrett clearance kick. His height allowed him to block the kick, and he opened the scoring to the screams of delight from the crowd.
That began the match, and after 80 minutes, Kenki Fukuoka showed that the hosts had terrific stamina, as Japan finished with their best-ever points tally against New Zealand. Timothy Lafaele scored his second try, to cap off a great effort from the Brave Blossoms.
The result ultimately went the way of New Zealand. The manner in way the All Blacks defeat Japan was based on an open-play style ingrained into all 23 New Zealand players.
Only brought together since Monday, they used this match as an opportunity to demonstrate their skills. Many All Blacks in waiting will now benefit from a better comparison to the existing All Blacks group, after their 31-69 victory.
All Blacks expose new players to International rugby in Tokyo display
In retrospect, there was a mix of both good and bad in the visitors Tokyo display. If included with last weeks 37-20 win over Australia, then the good work from the New Zealand players will outweigh the bad.
Positives that Steve Hansen can take away, include the experience of playing and traveling around the RWC host nation. The hospitality and facilities, which this week included Ajinomoto Stadium – the setting for the opening game of the tournament. And the style with which the two games have been played, will delight observers.
As an example of the game, and of many potential future players for New Zealand Rugby, it can only bring rewards. Mixed with some risks; in that leaving experienced players to head to England early, a young team were exposed to the International game.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen told media post-match “There was a fair amount of risk going into the game.
“But we felt the rewards were bigger than the risk if we got things right. There were a number (of players) who have done themselves really proud”. Those men were all wanting to put on a great exhibition – and 69 points can only be seen as a fine display.
The only negative would be points relinquished. 31 points/five tries in this match, with much opposition scoring built on fine attacking play. And, the 20 points conceded to Australia might have been twice as much as a better drilled defensive effort would have wished to give away. Though, the reaction from Jamie Joseph was still based on his sides wish to defeat the World Champions, which came unstuck.
Japan head coach concedes Brave Blossoms beaten by stronger team
“Clearly when you make mistakes against a team like the All Blacks they make you pay for it,” rued Joseph, in reports from the Kyoto News.
“We should have kept the ball in hand more in the second half,” he said. “That was down to a little bit of inexperience and if we had kept the ball in hand we could have done a little better.”
What credit should be given to the hosts; even while the All Blacks defeat Japan in the fourth International clash between the nations, is for their attitude. Never in the negative, never looking for cheap shots or displaying any unsportsmanlike behavior. Just like the Japanese people, they were respectful, exact in their role and will learn much from the occasion.
The Brave Blossoms, no longer a Tier Two nation, will now travel to Europe, following New Zealand. Each has goals to achieve from next weekend on, and towards the ultimate goal – the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
One side will have ideas of raising the Webb Ellis Cup for the fourth time. As the other, wishes to reach the knockout stages, and maybe even further. And with the show of support last night in Tokyo, the nation will become rugby-mad after more displays like they witnessed Saturday afternoon.
Japan should be given full credit. They tried their very hardest, to match the All Blacks. They were successful in furthering the foundations of the sport in the country – and that will bring benefits for generations to come. So it is Omedetō (congratulations) to Japan, and all the best in their next match;
England v Japan – Saturday, November 17. Twickenham, London
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images