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TOKYO (AP) — Given the keys to the All Blacks machine, first-time flyhalf Jordie Barrett stalled it a couple of times.
Barrett stayed positive, though, refocused, respected the ball, and ultimately drove the world’s No. 1-ranked rugby team smoothly and superbly.
Much like Barrett, New Zealand sputtered for a while then started purring, and put Namibia’s amateurs in their place in the Rugby World Cup by a 71-9 scoreline on Sunday.
New Zealand’s third win from three matches in Pool B set up its last pool game against Italy next weekend as a quarterfinal decider.
Just four days after blitzing Canada 63-0, the All Blacks raised the highest score at this World Cup with a victory by 11 tries to nil at Tokyo Stadium.
It was competitive for a while. The Namibians were closer to full strength eight days after conceding 57 to South Africa, and gave New Zealand some bother in the first half. Their plan to play “boring rugby” by keeping the ball effectively frustrated the All Blacks, and their gang-tackling forced errors from the impatient defending champions. Scrumhalf Damian Stevens kicked all three of his penalty attempts to have them trailing only 10-9 after 30 minutes.
Moments later, All Blacks pr
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