All Blacks blow out rust to rout Samoa

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Lynn McConnell     16 Jun 2017     Getty Images

That was always going to be likely as Samoa were out-classed. They played with spirit in the first quarter with some hard running but as the game progressed they looked for short cuts, and were too often caught behind the advantage line.

By the second half the All Blacks dominated possession and there were few crumbs on offer for Samoa as they ran in 12 tries without reply.

Importantly, after the scrum issues involving referee Mathieu Reynauld in last week's Crusaders game against the British & Irish Lions there were no concerns at all from him on Friday.

There were many positives for the home side: Beauden Barrett demonstrated that his goal-kicking mojo is back with seven conversions, centre Anton Lienert-Brown was a dominant performer in midfield. Flanker Sam Cane proved an efficient scythe in tackling off the ruck while No.8 Ardie Savea handled his role well and scored two deserved tries.

Among the other achievements on the night was the introduction of flanker Vaea Fifita, who received reward for good support play with a try on debut while substitutes halfback TJ Perenara and first five-eighths Lima Sopoaga were quickly on song.

It was evident in the first quarter that the rust the management was so concerned about ahead of the Lions series was causing some issues, especially in defensive formations. However, in the second quarter there was much more cohesion and support proved much better and three tries in 11 minutes before half-time summed up the improvement and the second half confirmed it.

New Zealand's first try, after 11 minutes, came turned after a kick to the corner. They won a penalty and took the scrum when the lineout maul was pulled down. Off the back of it Ardie Savea finally controlled the ball before releasing it. Barrett took the ball to the line and while held up over it, he dropped the ball behind and and centre Lienert-Brown only had to drop on it to score.

Twice Samoa cut past second five-eighths Sonny Bill Williams. On the first occasion it was Tim Nanai-Williams, off his wing, who joined the backline and set up a certain opportunity only for second five-eighths Alapati Leiua to throw a wild pass to touch.

Moments later, after Leiua had made another break the Samoan forwards launched several pick-and-goes before it was released for the backs only for the ball to be dropped.

It was knocked back for fullback Ben Smith to pick up just out from his line to break tackles before passing to halfback Aaron Smith. He linked with Williams who passed to Barrett. The ball went to foot and Barrett toed it ahead and won the race to the in-goal in the 29th minute.

Four minutes later from a scrum on halfway signs of improving precision were evident as blindside wing Julian Savea took the ball at first receiver to link with Barrett, then Lienert-Brown who passed inside to Ardie Savea who was untroubled on a 30m run to the line.

The half was completed with the Samoans being called for off-side at nearly every set-piece and after a tighthead gained on the Samoan line, New Zealand scrummed again and on a simple move Williams ran back on the angle to score by the posts.

Making full use of a Samoan knock-on in the first minute of the second half, Aaron Smith worked the blindside to feed Lienert-Brown who stepped through to find Dagg outside him and he raced 35m to score.

It was Julian Savea's turn to score in the 51st minute, when the All Blacks took a lineout while Samoa will still organising themselves. That allowed Savea to charge into the line to set up a ruck which saw lock Brodie Retallick charge down the right flank to set up another ruck.

Flanker Sam Cane, who had put in a power of tackles, took it ahead before it emerged for Lienert-Brown to fling a long pass to the unmarked Savea on the left flank to score his 46th Test try. Four minutes later Savea fielded a Samoan clearing kick in touch and threw it to Ben Smith who charged through to vacant space where hooker Codie Taylor was waiting for the in-pass to score.

Barrett scored a second and as the resistance died, Fifita, Perenara, Ardie Savea and Sam Cane all scored in the last 10 minutes.

Scorers: New Zealand 78 ( Anton Lienert-Brown, Beauden Barrett 2, Ardie Savea 2, Sonny Bill Williams, Israel Dagg, Julian Savea, Codie Taylor, Vaea Fifita, TJ Perenara, Sam Cane tries; Beauden Barrett 7 con; Lima Sopoaga 2 con) Samoa 0. HT: 28-0