New Zealand down brave Japan in Tokyo

New Zealand down brave Japan in Tokyo
George Bridge scores a try at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. Pic: AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

New Zealand 69 - 31 Japan

Ngani Laumape scored a hat-trick and George Bridge came off the bench to mark his debut with two tries as New Zealand beat Japan 69-31 in Tokyo.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had named a youthful side, with eight players making their debut in a team captained by Luke Whitelock.

Number 10 Richie Mo'unga kicked an early penalty before the Brave Blossoms delighted the near 44,000 record home crowd at the Ajinomoto Stadium when they went ahead with a converted try from Samuela Anise after he charged down an attempted clearance.

New Zealand, though, soon reasserted their authority. Hooker Dane Coles, making his return to the team following a serious knee injury, Mo'unga and Hurricanes midfielder Laumape all went over to see the visitors lead 24-7 with half an hour played.

Japan responded again through Hendrik Tui, but the All Blacks went into half-time with a 38-19 advantage.

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, with a first Test try, and Laumape both touched down before Japan added an unconverted score from Tim Lafaele, given after a check by the television match official, ahead of the break.

It was, though, soon more one-way traffic in the second half. Canterbury winger George Bridge, only just one as a replacement, went over to mark his Test debut with a try after the All Blacks won a line-out against the throw.

Although Jamie Henry added another Japan try in the corner, further efforts from Waisake Naholo and Matt Proctor, set up after Bridge had collected his own kick downfield, made it 57-24 to New Zealand on the hour.

Laumape completed his hat-trick soon after when away down the right wing. Bridge chalked up his second try of the match after some more clever kicking, before Lafaele added another consolation score for the hosts late on.

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