If only rugby was a game of twenty or thirty minutes.
Then there would have been plenty of positives for the Manu Samoa coaching staff from last night’s Eden Park massacre.
Unfortunately rugby is an 80-minute game. There are two halves where you need to maintain the same intensity – especially against a beast like the All Blacks.
When you don’t, they only need a few minutes to punish you. And punish the All Blacks did.
From 28-0 lead at half time, they inflicted plenty of punishment in the second stanza to post an emphatic, 78-0, victory, sending a warning to the Lions that they mean business.
To be fair to the Manu Samoa, they were not that bad. Well in some periods of the game. And with Wales up next at Apia Park next Friday, captain Kahn Fotuali’i and his men can hold their heads high.
We are talking about the All Blacks and some of those players – including Samoans in the All Blacks – played freakishly amazing. They are a joy to watch.
For the Manu Samoa, if the first half was anything go by, coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia and his management will take lots of positives from the test match.
The set pieces worked reasonably well at the start.
The scrum stood up to the test, lineouts were not fantastic but they can be improved and there were good signs for Samoa going forward.
What was most pleasing to watch was the return to form of Tim Nanai-Williams and Alapati Leiua who asked plenty of questions of the All Blacks defence in the first half.
They found gaps and made good breaks which the Manu Samoa was unlucky not to score from.
Speaking of unlucky, the men in blue got off to a flying start and were undoubtedly hard done by when they were denied a chance to score in the opening exchanges.
The T.M.O had zeroed in on an infringement by Faifili Levave and minutes later completely missed a knock on by Julian Savea in the lead up to the game’s first try.
Who knows what could have been if Samoa had posted the first points? We can only imagine.
Alas it wasn’t to be.
The All Blacks are the world champions for a reason.
You see, despite Samoa winning all the statistics in the first half with most of the possession and territory, New Zealand had the upper hand where it mattered the most and that was the scoreboard.
And after the All Blacks scored three tries against the run of play, the floodgates opened. That’s when Samoa capitulated.
The second half was a disaster, more or less like a touch rugby game.
When the All Blacks found their rhythm and upped the ante, they were untouchable right up to the final whistle. What started out promisingly for Samoa immediately turned to custard.
Today, the Manu Samoa is scheduled to touch down to prepare for their home test match against Wales at Apia Park.
The good news is they don’t have to wait long for redemption. Wales is next.
And if they can repeat the first twenty minutes of their performance against the All Blacks last night next week against Wales (okay maybe stretch it out a wee bit to say 70 minutes), we should have plenty to celebrate next week. Let’s wait.
In the meantime, here is Fox News account of how the test match played out:
The All Blacks have tuned up for their Test series against the British and Irish Lions by overpowering Samoa 78-0 in Auckland.
In their first hitout of the season, New Zealand produced some expansive rugby as they ran in 12 tries at Eden Park.
First five-eighth Beauden Barrett and No 8 Ardie Savea each grabbed a double, with Barrett kicking seven conversions for a personal haul of 24 points.
It was the third time the All Blacks had hit a half-century in their seven encounters with the Pacific Island nations. The All Blacks repelled a strong Samoan start before scoring on their first attack.
A lineout misthrow by the visitors gave the home side the ball in good field position and Barrett’s dab and offload led to a touchdown for centre Anton Lienert-Brown.
Samoa were their usual physical selves and they then almost grabbed the equalising try midway through the opening half.
Winger Tim Nanai-Williams’ step opened up the All Blacks’ midfield defence but the move ended with second-five Alapati Leiua’s wayward pass.
However, Leiua followed up with a break that caused more problems before Samoa paid for a dropped ball when hot in attack.
Fullback Ben Smith, who was impressive at the back on his elevation to stand-in Test skipper, picked up the loose ball and headed upfield.
The swift counter was finished by Barrett toeing ahead a loose offload and following up to score on the half-hour.
Four minutes later, Ardie Savea scored off a clinical backline move from a solid scrum on the halfway line.
Another strong scrum, this time close to the goal line, led to a try for second-five Sonny Bill Williams and Barrett’s fourth conversion made it 28-0 at halftime.
The onslaught continued after the restart, with winger Israel Dagg finishing in the corner.
A couple of big runs from Julian Savea and lock Brodie Retallick then led to the winger’s 46th Test try.
As Samoa tired from relentless tackling, some incisive running from Smith sent hooker Codie Taylor over.
The All Blacks were producing some sweeping moves, and Barrett grabbed his second try before replacement loose forward Vaea Fifita crossed just minutes after coming on for his debut.
Outside back Jordie Barrett also earned his first cap, coming on just after the hour and following from brother Beauden and Scott into Test football.
Further tries in the last nine minutes to substitute halfback TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea and flanker Sam Cane completed the rout.
NEW ZEALAND 78 (Beauden Barrett 2, Ardie Savea 2, Sam Cane, Israel Dagg, Vaea Fifita, Anton Lienert-Brown, TJ Perenara, Julian Savea, Codie Taylor, Sonny Bill Williams tries Barrett 7, Lima Sopoaga 2 cons) bt SAMOA 0 at Eden Park