The All Blacks beat Japan 38-31 in an unconvincing start to the tour

New Zealand kicked off their end-of-year tour with a 38-31 win over Japan on Saturday, but the makeshift All Blacks got a big scare in front of a crowd of over 60,000 at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

The visitors played the final 14 minutes to one man after lock Brodie Retallick was sent off for a dangerous clearance but just held back for the win despite a late try from Brave Blossoms excellent flanker Kazuki Himeno.

A three-try blitz had given New Zealand a 21-3 lead after 32 minutes, but Japan, who had never beaten the All Blacks, hit back with two of their own to reduce the deficit to four points at half-time. shortly after the break to restore New Zealand’s lead, but Japanese lock Warner Dearns cut it by charging a Finlay Christie area kick and collecting to score.

All Blacks number eight Hoskins Sotutu crossed the line on the hour mark and that proved enough even after Retallick was shown a red card on his 99th Test for his clearance over Himeno.

Japan, who attacked everything in sight and attacked with every crumb of possession they gained, could take solace in the narrowest margin of defeat by far in their five official Tests against the three-time world champions.

Center Dylan Riley played a part in both of Japan’s first-half tries, his chip leading opener Takuya Yamasawa’s score and an outrageous offload from the tackle sending scrum-half Yutaka Nagare down the midfield. -time.

Samisoni Taukei’aho, a late substitute for Dane Coles injured at hooker, had a similar impact for the All Blacks with a line break to send Retallick for the opening try and a long lineout throw that established the score from winger Sevu Reece.

New Zealand’s second try in the 26th minute had an element of luck with center Braydon Ennor crossing after what looked like a clear forward pass from Richie Mo’unga to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the lead.

The All Blacks conclude their tour of Britain with games against Wales, Scotland and England over the next three weeks, while Japan face the English at Twickenham and France at Toulouse next month .

About Walter J. Leslie

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