Rugby World Cup 2019: Five big things from All Blacks' big win over Namibia

The other Barrett at first-five

Many of us probably approached this game with some trepidation, after the All Blacks selectors decided not to take a third first-five specialist to the World Cup.

Inevitably, a part-timer would have to pull on the No.10 jersey and Jordie Barrett drew the short straw.

Although coach Steve Hansen insisted he shouldn't look forward to a career at the pivot, the youngest Barrett let no-one down, suggesting this may not be the last time we see him there.

In fact, it could go down as his best showing in the black jersey, from the time he cross-kicked expertly for Sevu Reece's opening try, made the break to create Anton Lienert-Brown's second try and then crossed for his own five-pointer late in the game.

After missing his first two conversion attempts - his second was charged down - he slotted seven straight with the boot. A complete performance. 

Brodie's back

After more than two months nursing a shoulder dislocation, talismanic lock Brodie Retallick successfully complete his comeback, clocking 30 minutes - as planned - before he was replaced by Patrick Tuipulotu.

During that stint, he was everywhere, giving that dicky shoulder a real workout in all aspects of the game. He even managed to charge down a clearing kick from Namibian halfback Damian Stephens with his nose.

Retallick has a week to recover from any initial soreness and can expect to see more action against Italy, as he builds towards the business end of the tournament. 

Tribute to Scott Barrett, though. During Retallick's absence, he has provided many of the touches his veteran teammate is known for and the All Blacks have probably only suffered from not having those same skills coming off the bench.

Savea goggles, Part II

And the Ardie Savea goggles experiment seems to be over before it really began.

You will recall Savea announced he would wear the protective eyewear, after suffering a deterioration of vision in his left eye. 

He was praised by vision-impairment lobbyists and rugby administrators alike, but alas, the impracticality of wearing goggles in a contact sport seems too difficult to overcome.

Within two minutes of entering the game against Canada on Tuesday, Savea's goggles were ripped off his head, and although he relocated and re-attached them, he did not wear them at all against Namibia.

Hopefully, this situation will not affect his availability for future games, because he remained as dynamic as ever, starting at No.8 for captain Kieran Read.

Yellow-card fever

Unfortunately, the All Blacks have poured more petrol on the fiery debate over head-contact incidents at this tournament.

First, referee Pascal Gauzere dispatched prop Nepo Laulala after half an hour, when he clobbered a Namibian forward driving low for the goal-line.

The All Blacks were forced to reshuffle their pack, with Sam Cane replaced by Angus Ta'avao, who scored the next try. When the 10 minutes were up, Cane returned, but Laulala didn't.

Then, with 10 minutes remaining, prop Ofa Tuungafasi committed a carbon-copy offence and met the same fate.

Both incidents involved obvious head contact, but it's hard to see how the players could have executed their tackles differently without offending.

Teams have been warned and the onus is on them to devise a strategy that won't leave them playing a man short for long stretches in sudden-death matches to come.

Plucky Namibia

When Laulala left the game, Namibia were trailling only 10-9 and with an extra man to their advantage, some dared to dream of a massive, massive upset.

After all, at No.23, they were the lowest-ranked team at the tournament, up against the two-time defending champions and world No.1.

Of course, it was not to be and two tries during the power play put paid to any fleeting chance of a boilover.

Still, Namibia have shown glimpses during this tournament, really testing Italy in their opener, and their final outing against Canada - the next lowest ranked team at No.22 - should be a cracker.

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Grant Chapman is Newshub online sports editor. Join us at 5:45pm Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v Italy Rugby World Cup clash.

 

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