Replacement hooker Dane Coles chalked up 4 second-half tries to propel the All Blacks to a 57-23 triumph against Fiji but not aft they were fixed a crisp reminder astir the brutal physicality of trial lucifer rugby by the passionate Pacific Islanders.
On a acold nighttime successful Dunedin, the Fijians brought superior vigor arsenic skipper Levani Botia turned himself into a quality rocket connected Damian McKenzie and the All Blacks were blameworthy of being outmuscled astatine the breakdown and adjacent conceded a punishment effort against the fired-up visitors.
The All Blacks got the occupation done – fastener Brodie Retallick made a palmy instrumentality and try-hungry Coles was portion of a crisp seat effort – but for an hr of the trial it was uncomfortable viewing for a broadside that had promised to bring an other carnal borderline successful 2021.
All Blacks prima gets smashed
Leading 21-11 astatine halftime, George Bridge extended the pb soon afterwards but the power of the high-class coaching squad assembled by Fiji was evident arsenic they deed backmost from an fantabulous effort to No 7 Mesulame Kunavula that exposed the All Blacks blindside defence astatine lineout time.
The All Blacks forwards mostly failed to enforce themselves against the immense Fijians, with the backmost enactment of Hoskins Sotutu, Shannon Frizell and Ethan Blackadder incapable to exert the power they wield successful Super Rugby.
Indeed, the All Blacks suffered the ignominy of conceding a punishment effort connected the hr people aft the well-organised Fijians were driving their mode to the line. Havili was shown a yellowish paper for his troubles arsenic Fiji closed to wrong 8 points.
Fiji's beauteous pre-game hymn
Had it not been for the ratio of the All Blacks' lineout thrust – Coles picked up 3 of his second-half tries successful the aforesaid mode – the All Blacks mightiness person been looking astatine an epic upset against the world's No 11-ranked side.
However, successful beforehand of 15,103 supporters they pushed distant from the Fiji successful the last 15 minutes to springiness the scoreline a flattering feel.
Coles' 4 tries – a grounds for an All Blacks guardant – was bully reward for the corporate interaction of the All Blacks arsenic Will Jordan, halfback Finlay Christie and prop Ethan de Groot brought immoderate much-needed spark and aggression.
Fiji excessively clever for All Blacks
The All Blacks astir scored wrong the archetypal 5 minutes aft a clever crossfield footwear from Beauden Barrett recovered Sevu Reece, but Fiji were highly competitory astatine the breakdown successful the aboriginal exchanges successful a motion of things to come.
Twice the visitors won ruck penalties and opened the scoring from a Ben Volavola changeable astatine goal.
The size and physicality of the Fijians was a large measurement up from a depleted Tonga broadside past week and they had nary occupation getting implicit the gainline.
Slick hands from All Blacks
But immoderate slick hands from the All Blacks' backs created the archetypal effort to Jordie Barrett, portion caller No 12 Havili danced his mode to different effort wrong the opening quarter.
The Crusaders midfielder doubled his tally soon afterwards done immoderate brushed defence, with the All Blacks' lineout erstwhile again an effectual launchpad.
Lock Retallick enactment himself astir successful his comeback trial – helium was astir apt the astir carnal of the All Blacks forwards – but the All Blacks battalion were acold from perfect.
Fijian Cibi meets the Haka
Patrick Tuipulotu dropped a regularisation restart and a Hoskins Sotutu lineout mistake yet led to a fashionable Fijian effort aft 27 minutes.
After All Blacks helping George Bridge was good beaten connected the extracurricular by Eroni Sau, the Fijians went adjacent and won a punishment adjacent to the sticks.
Backing their lineout, they kicked to interaction and past bullied their mode the enactment via No 8 Albert Tuisue.
Damian McKenzie – connected arsenic s impermanent replacement for a bloodied Beauden Barrett – was past monstered minutes aboriginal successful a monolithic Levani Botia tackle arsenic the carnal onslaught expected from the Fijians was duly delivered.
Despite a 21-11 lead, that strength appeared to sound the All Blacks retired of their stride successful the last 10 minutes of the half, and they could not find a mode implicit the enactment contempt a play of precocious unit camped wrong Fiji's 22m line.
That unconvincing decorativeness to the archetypal 40 minutes continued successful the 3rd 4th but the All Blacks yet managed to footwear away, albeit with much than a fewer bruises and immoderate important lessons to digest earlier the 2nd trial successful Hamilton adjacent week.
All Blacks 57 (Jordie Barrett, David Havili (2), George Bridge, Dane Coles (4), Will Jordan tries, Beauden Barrett 6 cons) Fiji 23 (Albert Tuisue, Mesulame Kunavula tries, punishment try, Ben Volavola 2 pens). HT: 21-11