New Zealand is just within inches of a ninth last 8 berth in nine Rugby World Cups after drubbing Namibia 71-9 on Sunday.
New Zealand, which has never been defeated in a pool match, will lock horns with Italy next weekend in a bid to get a fourth straight win and wrapt the Pool B. The top two teams in every group qualify to the quarterfinals.
Just a couple of days after thrashing Canada 63-0, the All Blacks beat the highest score at this World Cup with a qin by 11 tries to nil at Tokyo Stadium.
The biggest and possibly the lone minus for New Zealand was the yellow cards for props Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tuungafasi. Both received it for the arm tackles touching the ball-carriers’ heads, though both times the Namibians were with their heads down.
Despite being a man short for the end of both sides of the time, they didn’t even register with the All Blacks, who put up four tries while being down to 14 men.
“The first half was a bit of a letdown. We did not come up with the right mindset and Namibia made sure that we would pay for that. It’s good to have learned it the hard way, we will only learn and improve from this,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said. “We eventually did score (11) tries so there are a lot of positive to talk about it.”
The Namibians were closer to their full strength just days after giving away 57 to South Africa and put up New Zealand with some bother in the first half. They limited the All Blacks to merely two tries in the first 36 minutes.
In their sole encounter at the 2015 World Cup, New Zealand had the bonus-point fourth try within 36 minutes.
Despite being physically outmatched in the scrum, where New Zealand had the additional 10 kilograms per man, the Namibians tackled brilliantly and held on to the ball for a lot of time to cause penalties. Scrumhalf Damian Stevens took all three of his penalties to have them trailing only 10-9.
Just minutes later, Laulala was sin-binned, and the lively crowd of 48,354 was couldn’t hold back their excitement. But nobody was convinced that an upset was incoming from the lowest-ranked team in the competition.