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All Blacks sign off World Cup preparations with 85-point Tongan annihilation
10:24 pm GMT+12, 08/09/2019, New Zealand

The All Blacks have turned on the razzle dazzle in their final Test ahead of the Rugby World Cup, scoring 14 tries in a 92-7 rout of Tonga in Hamilton.
 
Playing with complete freedom against hopelessly outclassed opponents, the world champions flexed their attacking muscles ominously on Saturday, notching their biggest winning margin over any team in more than a decade.
 
New Zealand showed no mercy against Tonga in their final World Cup warm-up.Credit:Getty Images
 
Winger George Bridge bagged four tries while fullback Ben Smith and inside centre Ryan Crotty crossed twice each in what was effectively a glorified training run.
 
It was a colourful way for Smith, Crotty and captain Kieran Read - who also scored a try - to end their Test careers on New Zealand soil. The trio will all take up offshore club contracts after the World Cup.
 
Tongan skipper Siale Piutau crossed three minutes from the end to ensure the All Blacks wouldn't keep their opponents scoreless for a second straight game, having whitewashed the Wallabies 36-0 three weeks ago.
 
Up 54-0 at halftime, New Zealand appeared on track to raise a century for most of the game but were held scoreless over the final 15 minutes.
 
They weren't helped by their own decision to play with just 14 men for that period. They didn't replace Crotty when he left the ground after scoring his second try.
 
Otherwise, the hosts were ruthless, playing with a speed the 15th-ranked Tongans couldn't match.
 
Steve Hansen's men won't get the same leeway when they face the Springboks in a mouth-watering opening World Cup pool game against South Africa in Yokohama on September 21.
 
Tonga face England in Sapporo a day later and coach Toutai Kefu, the former Wallabies forward, has a mountainous task to get them up to speed.
 
Injuries forced Kefu to field Siua Maile as his starting hooker. Maile is a full-time Christchurch roofer who had never previously played higher than club rugby.
 
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will have breathed a sigh of relief that none of his players seemingly picked up injuries.
 
He was able to hand a Test debut to Josh Ioane, who replaced Beauden Barrett at halftime.
 
Ioane's first touch was a kick-off which was claimed by Bridge, who scored just seven seconds after the restart - most probably a world record....

SOURCE: AAP/PACNEWS


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