Rugby World Cup 2019: Five big things from New Zealand's win over Canada

Barrage of Barretts

 

Spark Sport commentator Scotty 'Sumo' Stevenson had obviously been polishing his Barrett alliteration all week in preparation for this match - the first time three brothers had fronted for the All Blacks at a World Cup.

In the hours leading up to this contest, a meme of the siblings dressed as the creepy sisters from The Shining movie did the rounds of social media and the Canadians lived through 80 minutes of that horror show at Oita.

Beauden, Scott and Jordie all crossed for tries, although the first two also botched others with the line wide open.

Their crowning moment almost came in the dying seconds, when Beauden chipped through for Jordie to gather and offload to Scott with another try beckoning, but he was dragged down before he could capitalise. 

Savea's goggles

 

Perhaps the most anticipated debut of the night was the rampaging loose forward's new eyewear, brought on by apparently diminishing vision in his left eye.

There are still so many questions around the use of goggles in a contact sport like rugby - like how will they actually improve his medical condition, how will they stay on at the bottom of a ruck, and what happens if they break and cause injury?

Savea entered the fray with 10 minutes remaining and within a couple of minutes, the goggles had gone missing. If they hadn't, they probably would have fallen off in the head clash soon afterwards.

Obviously, they are still a work in progress, but they didn't seem to affect his play - he was as industrious as ever and hopefully this affliction won't derail his campaign.

Who put their hands up?

 

All eyes were on Rieko Ioane to see if he could make a case to reclaim his left wing spot in the All Blacks top line-up, but his first-half efforts fell well short of that level.

He seemed too desperate to impress, but was certainly better after the break, when he scored within seconds of kick-off to steady the nerves.

Ioane even moved into midfield, suggesting he may have some utility value off the bench, if needed.

Blindside flanker Shannon Frizell probably made the best of his opportunity, featuring with 3-4 powerful runs, one of which resulted in a try. Of course, he will struggle to unseat Savea, but showed he was clearly the next cab off the rank.

Sonny Bill Williams reminded us of his class, scoring a try, and laying on try assists to Beauden Barrett (with a clever kick) and Ioane (with a clean break and pass). He's certainly still in the midfield mix, whether as a starter or coming off the bench.

Returning from a long hamstring injury, Jack Goodhue was almost invisible and seemed to have fallen out of contention at this stage.

Propping high jinx

 

Someone seemed to be playing a little practical joke on poor old Atu Moli. When was the last time you saw a prop go 80 minutes?

These days, benches carry two propping reserves and usually they operate in tandem, relieving the starters of their duty at the same time.

But the All Blacks' bizarre subbing rotation against Canada saw Nepo Laulalau replace Angus Ta'avao after just 25 minutes and then Ofa Tuungafasi tag on for Laulala 10 minutes into the second half.

While those three got away with light 25-30-minute shifts, Moli must have wondered how he was ever getting off the field. Five minutes from fulltime, he was penalised for a neck-roll tackle that almost seemed like a desperate plea for a red card, because a few moments later, he suffered cramping and struggled to reach the final siren.

A supreme effort from the big man.

Taking liberties with first-fives

 

While coach Steve Hansen was adamant he wanted to give the Richie Mo'unga-Beauden Barrett combo more playing time, this was one of those games where the lack of a third-string specialist at first-five could easily have come back to bite the All Blacks.

Pre-match, Hansen was quick to rule out a non-specialist filling the role against Canada and as the match panned out, both first-choice playmakers went the distance without apparent ill affects.

But at least one of them needs to rest against Namibia and the other should not be risked for more than a half, leaving a part-timer to steer the cutter down the home stretch.

If either Mo'unga or Barrett were injured against the lowest-ranked teams at the tournament, that would be a disaster for the bigger picture.

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's online sports editor.

 

  

 

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