Brodie Retallick’s red card helps the All Blacks secure victory over Japan.

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By Creative Media News

Saturday marked the beginning of New Zealand’s end-of-year trip with a 38-31 triumph over Japan at Tokyo’s National Stadium, but the All Blacks were given a tremendous scare in front of more than 60,000 spectators.

The visitors played the final 14 minutes with one man less after lock Brodie Retallick was sent off for a hazardous clearout, but they hung on to win despite a late score from Brave Blossoms flanker Kazuki Himeno, who was excellent.

New Zealand led 21-3 after 32 minutes thanks to a flurry of three tries, but Japan, who have never defeated the All Blacks, responded with two of their own to trim the lead to four points at halftime. Soon after the break, wing Caleb Clarke pushed his way through the Japan defense to extend New Zealand’s lead, but Japan locks Warner Dearns cut it back by intercepting a Finlay Christie box kick and scoring.

Brodie retallick's red card helps the all blacks secure victory over japan.
Brodie retallick's red card helps the all blacks secure victory over japan.

Hoskins Sotutu, No. 8 for the All Blacks, barged his way across the try line at the hour mark, and it proved to be sufficient cushion despite Retallick’s red card in his 99th Test for his tackle on Himeno.

Japan, who defended heroically and attacked with every scrap of possession they acquired, may take solace in the fact that they suffered their lowest margin of defeat against the three-time world champions in their five official Tests.

Centre Dylan Riley contributed to both of Japan’s first-half tries, with his chip setting up fly-half Takuto Yamasawa’s score and his incredible offload out of the tackle setting up scrum-half Yutaka Nagare’s try on the final play of the half.

All blacks
Brodie retallick's red card helps the all blacks secure victory over japan.

Samisoni Taukei’aho, a late substitute for the injured Dane Coles at hooker, had a similar effect for the All Blacks with a line break to set up Retallick’s first try and a long lineout throw to set up winger Sevu Reece’s second try.

Braydon Ennor scored New Zealand’s second try in the 26th minute after Richie Mo’unga’s ball to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck appeared to be a clear forward pass.

Three weeks from now, the All Blacks will end their trip against Wales, Scotland, and England, while Japan will face England at Twickenham and France in Toulouse.

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