New Zealand beats Samoa 78-0, gears up for Lions
New Zealand shook off cobwebs after six months of inactivity with a 78-0 win over Samoa on Friday, scoring 12 tries and sending a message about attacking intent to the British and Irish Lions a week out from their first test.
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett scored two tries, had a creative hand in several others and kicked seven conversions for 24 points as the All Blacks overcame a shaky start against an intrepid Samoa team to display their most clinical attacking ability.
Fullback Jordie Barrett came off the bench in the 63rd minute for his test debut and lock Scott Barrett also played as a replacement to become the first trio of brothers to play for the All Blacks in the same test. They missed the opportunity to appear on the field at the same time when Beauden Barrett was replaced just before Jordie left the bench.
The All Blacks scored through 10 different try-scorers. Midfielders Anton Lienert Brown and Sonny Bill Williams both touched down as did brothers Ardie and Julian Savea.
Ardie Savea, playing out of position at No. 8, scored twice and Julian scored his 46th try in the 53rd test. In doing so he moved into equal second place on New Zealand's all-time try-scoring list with Christian Cullen and Joe Rokocoko, three behind Doug Howlett who holds the record at 49.
Lock Vaea Fifita scored on test debut while winger Israel Dagg, hooker Codie Taylor, scrumhalf T.J. Perenara and flanker Sam Cane also scored tries.
Samoa exposed early gaps in the New Zealand midfield which could have led to tries had the Samoans had more time to hone their finishing.
Instead, New Zealand won a turnover and captain Ben Smith launched an attack five meters from the All Blacks goalline that led to Beauden Barrett's first try 95 meters down the field.
That helped to break the back of the Samoa resistance and New Zealand scored twice in quick succession, through Ardie Savea and Williams, to lead 28-0 at halftime.
''I think Samoa started out really physical and really tested us,'' said Smith, who captained New Zealand for the first time. ''We had to be really disciplined tonight and when we were we started to profit from that.''
New Zealand managed on several occasions to score from set pieces which was an objective and a sign of a well-organized and confident attack.
The best example came just before halftime when, from a scrum, Julian Savea hit the line from the left wing and combined with Beauden Barrett to put brother Ardie over for his first try.
Barrett also had a hand in Williams' try just before the break, picking out the powerful center with a short pass.
The All Blacks play the Lions in the first of three tests next Saturday in Auckland.
The Lions play New Zealand Maori on Saturday at Rotorua.