Second half All Blacks effort contains Namibian spirit

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Held to a halftime lead of 24-9 by a determined Namibian side, the All Blacks were unable to impose their game plan but in the second half they took near complete control to surpass the 58-14 win they had over Namibia in the 2015 World Cup.

But for everything else that happened in the game, including two yellow cards for props Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tuungafasi for high tackles on falling players, it will be the last try, scored by replacement first five-eighths TJ Perenara that will be long remembered.

Named as first five-eighths cover for Jordie Barrett, who had a sound game, Perenara started the movement with a midfield thrust before passing to wing George Bridge. He took the tackle and went to ground for replacement centre Rieko Ioane to get to the ball and move it on to replacement halfback Brad Weber.

He sped downfield before delivering a behind-the-back pass to Perenara who had somehow come around the outside to take the pass. With only millimetres to work in, Perenara somehow got down the sideline to put the ball over the line while being taken in a tackle that took him out of play.

Referee Pascal Gauzare asked for TMO confirmation and it showed that Perenara had completed the try.

It capped a second half which saw the All Blacks run the ball with more effect, with second five-eighths and player-of-the-match Anton Lienert-Brown, wing Sevu Reece and fullback Ben Smith all posting their second tries in the game.

Most of the merit awards in the first half went Namibia's way, more for enterprise and effort than scoring finesse. But buoyed by three penalty goals landed by halfback Damian Stevens, who also managed a chargedown of a Barrett conversion attempt, the southern Africans took their chances to provide an example of the power of determination.

Hooker Torsten George van Jaarsveld was torrid in the loose, contesting breakdowns and proving a general nuisance while lock AJ de Klerk proved a handful with one especially effective carry before being forced out of the game due to injury.

Flanker Thomasau Forbes also relished the battle in the loose. In the backline, captain and second five-eighths Johan Deysel, who scored against the All Blacks in 2015, was powerful on the carry while right wing Lesley Klim relished rare chances to put his speed to use.

One line break did test the All Blacks, but there was vitality in the response and the break was covered and cleared efficiently.

But the All Blacks were not without their own intent. Barrett was steady throughout, although the quality of the ball the backs received varied given the efforts of the Namibians to slow ball down. Barrett was on the mark with a cross kick to Reece for the first try five minutes into the game.

No.8 Ardie Savea was a constant presence both in defence and in continuity play as typified by his inside pass to second five-eighths Anton Lienert-Brown which opened up the defence and allowed him to bump off three defenders before scoring a 20th minute try.

Tighthead prop Nepo Laulala earned 10 minutes in the sin-bin when a tackle on falling wing Lesley Klim caught him on the head. Coming in the 30th minute it proved the end of Laulala's game as Angus Ta'avao replaced him and got himself on the scoresheet with a try that capped the most intensive period of build-up in the 35th minute.

Namibia's scrum was under pressure at every scrum, and with three opportunities to scrum in the red zone after the halftime hooter had sounded, the All Blacks wore them down and five minutes into injury time the ball came free for fullback Ben Smith to score.

Rounding out the success of the day was lock Brodie Retallick getting through 30 minutes involved in much of the action before being substituted with future games in mind.

Scorers: New Zealand 71 (Sevu Reece 2, Anton Lienert-Brown 2, Angus Ta'avao, Ben Smith 2, Joe Moody, Sam Whitelock, Jordie Barrett, TJ Perenara tries; Jordie Barrett 8 con) Namibia 9 (Damian Stevens 3 pen), HT: 24-9


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