14-man All Blacks Survive Brave Blossoms
After pushing the All Blacks all the way in a thrilling match in Tokyo, it is now obvious why Japan is known as the Brave Blossoms in rugby.
65,188 Japanese fans were hoping for their country's first victory over the All Blacks when Japan lock and New Zealander Warner Dearns charged down a ruck clearance by halfback Finlay Christie, recovered the ball, and went unopposed to get Japan to a 24-28 deficit.
They had hope again when lock Brodie Retallick was sent off in the 65th minute for dangerous play during a cleanout effort.
With three minutes remaining, outstanding openside flanker Kazuki Himeno raised expectations once more, but 14-man New Zealand held them off and first five-eighth Richie Mo'unga kicked a penalty goal to end the game.
Japan's performance amazed me because they were able to withstand all that the All Blacks threw at them, forcing them to make 182 tackles as opposed to the All Blacks' 103, while New Zealand won 121 rucks and mauls to Japan's 65.
The All Blacks failed to reach 50 points for the first time in the five matches they have played against Japan, and this demonstrated the progress the home team had made.
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