All Blacks in cruise control at the break

New Zealand 38 Japan 0

New Zealand 38 Japan 0

New Zealand scored six first-half tries at Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium to take charge of their World Cup Pool A clash against Japan.

The All Blacks were without injured trio Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina, but they still found early rhythm as centre Conrad Smith celebrated his 50th cap with a fourth-minute try.

It came from turnover possession, with All Blacks number eight Victor Vito making a telling thrust before quick passing gave Smith an easy finish and fly-half Colin Slade converted.

Japan gave France a major scare six days ago, but they spent much of the first period defending as wing Richard Kahui and flanker Jerome Kaino added tries during a five-minute spell of pressure.

Slade, though, missed three successive kicks at goal, which was a worry for All Blacks coach Graham Henry as Carter looks to shake off a back problem before next Saturday’s potential group decider against France.

Skipper Keven Mealamu then posted a fourth try before the break, converted by Slade, as New Zealand eased away from a committed, but limited, Japanese outfit.

And then the floodgates were prised open with further scores for scrum-half Andy Ellis and Slade, with the number 10 booting two more conversions.

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