All Blacks hit their stride in the 'game of three halves'

Ngani Laumape on the break for the All Blacks against Taranaki in the ''game of three halves'' in Pukekohe.
PHIL WALTER/GETTY IMAGES

Ngani Laumape on the break for the All Blacks against Taranaki in the ''game of three halves'' in Pukekohe.

The All Blacks have had a valuable Bledisloe Cup warm-up, beating Taranaki and Counties in the "game of three halves" in Pukekohe.

The All Blacks ran rampant, caning Taranaki 57-7 before beating Counties 49-0 on Friday night.

Before those two "halves", Counties beat Taranaki 28-7.

Sam Cane strides out on his way to a try against Counties.
SHANE WENZLICK/PHOTOSPORT

Sam Cane strides out on his way to a try against Counties.

The All Blacks squad only came together on Thursday and because of travel disruptions had a training session on Friday before their match outings.

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One player to impress was hooker Dane Coles, who showed little signs of rustiness despite missing the British and Irish Lions series, while Rieko Ioane looked sharp and scored tries in both halves.

Ben Smith has plenty of players in support against Taranaki.
GETTY IMAGES

Ben Smith has plenty of players in support against Taranaki.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he got what he wanted out of a pretty different sort of occasion, which saw the All Blacks stop off en route to Pukekohe, at Wesley College, and throw in a  20-minute pre-match training session.

"I wanted the guys to get a good run. Some of them haven't played for a while and it's always difficult getting back into international rugby without a game under your belt," he said afterwards.

"It's not about people putting their hands up (and impressing). You just want to get them out there, get them some game-time, get them going through the systems and back into the All Black way."

Hansen confirmed fog in Christchurch on Thursday had delayed the arrival of the southern contingent and forced the All Blacks into a unique sort of day where they squeezed in both a training hitout and a match.

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"They were never going to be perfect tonight. But there was a lot of nice rugby in there, and some good skill execution which we've been working on. They gelled reasonably well together so we're pretty happy."

Beauden Barrett sat the match out, which left Lima Sopoaga to play most of the hitout at No 10, with Damian McKenzie also logging some time there against Counties. There was also a bit of out-of-position stuff  as Hansen did his best to spread the load, with TJ Perenara filling in at fullback for a stint, and Ardie Savea cropping up on the left wing.

Hansen said there did not appear to be any serious injuries incurred from the outing, just over a week out from the Bledisloe test against Australia in Sydney.

Scores:

All Blacks 57 (Brodie Retalliack, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Rieko Ioane, Aaron Smith, Anton Lienert-Brown, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo, Ngani Laumape, Ben Smith tries; Sopoaga 6 con) Taranaki 7 (Sione Lea try, Marty McKenzie con)

All Blacks 49 (Sam Cane 2, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Lima Sopoaga, Nathan  Harris, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Rieko Ioane tries; Sopoaga 4 con, Damian McKenzie 3 con)  Counties 0

 

 - Stuff

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