- Publish Date
- Thursday, 3 October 2019, 7:11AM
The All Blacks have provided another reminder of the weaponry at their disposal at this World Cup with a demolition over Canada which while not unexpected was impressive nevertheless.
It wasn't perfect here at Oita Stadium – it was never going to be – but they coped with the oppressively humid conditions better than probably any other side here with the exception of hosts Japan and in Beauden Barrett the All Blacks have perhaps the best all-round attacking player we have seen at this World Cup or perhaps any other.
After 60 minutes some sections of the crowd chanted "we want Ardie" – they wanted to see the newly-goggled loose forward Savea and why not (they got their wish after 70 minutes) – but there was a frisson every time fullback Barrett got the ball because the two-time world player of the year is in the form of his life. It will take a special performance from someone to deny him another this year.
He is truly special and is the near-perfect player - his losing the ball after the gong with the line open was truly shocking. His covering tackle on No 10 Peter Nelson in Canada's only attacking opportunity of the match saved a near-certain try – and again linked superbly with his playmaking partner in crime Richie Mo'unga.
The question now is how Steve Hansen will juggle his resources for the Namibia match in Tokyo in four days. Neither playmaker is likely to start. Fortunately for Hansen and his side, there were apparently no serious injury issues (although one curiosity was the replacing of prop Angus Ta'avao after 25 minutes), nor, just as importantly, were their cards of any colour.
Their excellent discipline after their impressive first win over the Boks in Yokohama 10 days ago remains intact.
In an area famous for its hot pools, Canada were unfortunately soon out of their depth and, after a steady first half during which the All Blacks brought up their four-try bonus point, they turned up the heat after the break. Hansen's men scored nine tries in all, with Mo'unga putting in a flawless goalkicking display.
The All Blacks' set piece was utterly dominant; they began their spree with a penalty try after the Canada scrum was reversed under the posts, and the men in red appeared so fatigued even in the second quarter that their lineout defence was almost non-existent.
With Sonny Bill Williams similarly in charge in the midfield and providing momentum almost at will before being replaced after 50 minutes, the Canadians were constantly under pressure.
Scott Barrett could have joined his brothers Beauden and Jordie on the scoreboard in the first half but lost the ball on the line – he made up for it after the break when finishing a neat move involving Mo'unga and Kieran Read - and TJ Perenara went close in the left corner, only to ground the ball short with little room to move.
Five more tries came in the second half, with replacement halfback Brad Weber looking very sharp in scoring two consecutively, and Rieko Ioane clearly pleased with his.
There were handling errors – more than they'd like – but some of the All Blacks' attacking play was as neat as a button and they have threats across the park. The elder Barrett is the chief one but they're not limited to him; Williams, for example, is likely to be extremely pleased with his little grubber kick through for Beauden to score under the posts and so he should be.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission