New Zealand pummelled hapless Japan 83-7 Friday in an embarrassingly one-sided rout which brought back the horrors of World Cups past for Asia’s top team.
The makeshift All Blacks, with Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Mils Muliania among those missing injured, scored 13 tries at a rate of one every six minutes to evoke memories of the Bloemfontein massacre of 1995, when they won 145-17.
The performance, at a packed but unexcited Waikato Stadium, was by far the heaviest defeat in a World Cup which has so far been notable for the giant strides smaller teams have made to catch up with the established nations.
New Zealand were on the board with their first attack when Ma’a Nonu and Isaia Toeava set up Conrad Smith for a score wide left, in an ominous start to a half which yielded six tries by six different players in black.
Richard Kahui ran in the second 12 minutes later, Jerome Kaino went over from a ruck and stand-in captain Keven Mealamu swatted away a defender on the line before Andy Ellis and Colin Slade scored within a minute of each other.
Nonu was striding through the Japan defenders at will, while the Brave Blossoms wilted each time they had the ball and went into the break 38-0 down after spending less than five minutes in their opponents’ half.
The scoreboard was static for only five second-half minutes when Kahui got his second before rugby league-cum-boxing star Sonny Bill Williams, introduced for winger Cory Jane, strode over for his first All Blacks try.
Toeava went over before fly-half Slade dished up the ball in a tackle to Japan veteran Hirotoki Onozawa for an intercept try which made him only the 15th player to score in three World Cups.
Slade, Nonu, Andrew Hore and Adam Thomson were also in on the action and Williams got a second before referee Nigel Owens ended the torture for Japan, who had impressed with a brave performance against France in their first game.
New Zealand’s biggest ever World Cup win was the 145-17 thumping of Japan in 1995, while the Brave Blossoms have now conceded 50 points or more in nine World Cup games.
The All Blacks now face a stiffer test against France next Saturday while Japan will revert to their strongest line-up for their must-win game against Tonga on Wednesday.
The game was preceded by a sombre minute’s silence for victims of earthquake disasters in Japan and New Zealand this year which left more than 20,000 people dead.