AUCKLAND (Reuters) - Samoa captain Kahn Fotuali‘i had a simple message to the British and Irish Lions after his side were thumped 78-0 by the All Blacks at Eden Park on Friday.
“Defend well,” the Bath scrumhalf told reporters. “When you turn the ball over, they capitalise on it. It was tough.”
The All Blacks, who play the first test against the Lions on June 24, had struggled with a Samoan side who put them under pressure for 30 minutes and it was only a sweeping 95-metre try finished by flyhalf Beauden Barrett that broke the shackles.
The world champions ran in 12 tries in all with their support play, putting players into space and ability to exploit every opportunity that should give Warren Gatland something to think about over the next eight days.
The majority of the All Blacks tries came when they transitioned from defence into attack, while they also struck three times from a solid scrum, which pleased coach Steve Hansen given the problems the Canterbury Crusaders had with referee Mathieu Raynal six days ago.
“We had a good meeting with him last night and discussed what he wanted,” Hansen said, while adding that Super Rugby was trialling new engagement processes that were not universal and could have been the problem last Saturday.
“I thought he refereed well.”
Typically slow starters in the first match of their international seasons, the All Blacks had organised the game to give them an opportunity to gel their combinations.
In most respects the match did exactly that, with plenty still to work on, Hansen said.
The big concern was the ease with which Sonny Bill Williams was turned inside out by opposite Alapati Leiua and Tim Nani-Williams early on before he settled into his combination with Anton Lienert-Brown.
The goal-line defence was also strong, but Hansen said it would need to improve against the Lions.
”Doesn’t matter who you play if you keep them to zero that’s not a bad effort,“ he said. ”The first 20 we got asked a lot of questions and we had to work hard.
“It wasn’t perfect but it was effective. The guys worked hard and got off the ground.”
Samoa coach Alama Ieremia said he had been pleased with his side’s performance for the first half, but once they turned the ball over the All Blacks were ruthless and that was something the Lions would need to be mindful of.
”Good luck to a team that turns the ball over against them,“ the former Samoa and All Blacks centre said. ”They really took their opportunities.
“They were pretty impressive in their finishing and any weakness you show you get punished.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Jon Boyle