Japan vs. New Zealand: Score, Recap and Analysis from Tokyo

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Japan vs. New Zealand: Score, Recap and Analysis from Tokyo
Phil Walter/Getty Images

Against the pitch-wide quality and oppression of the reigning world champions, there was only so much courage could accomplish as the Brave Blossoms were handed a 54-6 defeat against New Zealand on Saturday.

Japan may have come into this fixture with the hopes of staging 2013's biggest upset but were swiftly shown to be miles off the pace, for the large part struggling to get out of their own half.

Japan's summer build-up to this encounter

Steve Hansen's side continued their unbeaten year with an eight-try routing of the Asian minnows, Charles Piutau being the only player managing to cross over the whitewash on two occasions.

Aside from the Blues-based winger, Richie McCaw, Sam Cane, Jeremy Thrush, Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith and Frank Halai also managed to grab a try each.

 

Wasted Opportunities

By all means, the result speaks well of the All Blacks' strength in attack, but even the infallible New Zealand were shown to be victims of profligacy at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium.

In two previous World Cup meetings, New Zealand held an aggregate scoreline of 228-24 against the Cherry Blossoms, such was the gap between the two teams.

Phil Walter/Getty Images

One might say this weekend's outcome shows growth on Japan's part, but it was also due to the raft of inexperienced New Zealanders that the visitors sometimes struggled to get into their usually synchronised stride.

Piutau in particular may have grabbed a hat-trick were it not for avoidable mistakes in the opponents' 22'.

 

Set-Piece Pickup

One area where Japan showed that they were indeed more capable of competing on the All Blacks' level was at the scrum and lineout.

Phil Walter/Getty Images

Despite boasting a significantly heavier pack, the All Blacks were sometimes made to look ordinary at the scrum and the hosts indicated that, with some practice, this could be an area in which they go on to thrive.

The same went for the lineout in periods, and Scott Wisemantel, stepping in for the ill Eddie Jones, will have been pleased with the level of competition his team showed in that part of the match particularly.

 

Carter Back With a Bang

Six weeks after suffering a trembling shoulder injury thanks to Bismarck du Plessis, Dan Carter made his return to the international frame against New Zealand and became the first player to kick 500 goals, not including drop goals.

Leading up to the game, it was clear his head was elsewhere, however:

In total, the All Blacks' long-standing No. 10 has now scored 253 conversions, five of which came this weekend, and another 250 penalties in his decade playing as a New Zealand international.

The next milestone in sight for the 97-times capped veteran is a century of Test appearances, firmly within his sights this November as long as injury can be staved off.

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