Kieran Read speaks with coach Steve Hansen following the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group B game between New Zealand and Namibia at Tokyo Stadium in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan, October 6 2019. Picture: HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES
Kieran Read speaks with coach Steve Hansen following the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group B game between New Zealand and Namibia at Tokyo Stadium in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan, October 6 2019. Picture: HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

A Steve Hansen rocket at half-time ignited New Zealand’s second-half turnaround against Namibia at the Rugby World Cup on Sunday, culminating in a breathtaking score from TJ Perenara.

The world champions were held to 10-9 after 30 minutes by Namibia, a country that does not have a professional league, before they poured on 47 unanswered points after half-time to win 71-9.

The crowning glory was their 11th and final try, when Brad Weber threw a behind-the-back pass to Perenara, who was tackled just short of the line but leapt to avoid going into touch and grounded the ball in the corner from midair.

“It was a special one, it even got me out of my seat and not too many things do that,” said a deadpan Hansen.

The victory puts New Zealand on the verge of the quarterfinals as they moved to the top of Pool B with one game to play, against Italy, on Saturday.

Perenara, who is usually a scrumhalf but was playing at flyhalf outside Weber, shrugged off his fabulous score, which will be a contender for try of the tournament.

“I knew I had the ball down, I just thought that my feet were out to be honest. Ten [Helarius Kisting] made a good tackle on me and tried to get my feet in the air. I thought he had kept me down,” he said, praising Weber’s pass. “It was pretty cool — he’s a skilful player. I was screaming that I would be on the left and he sort of shaped right and threw it behind his back.”

Hooker Dane Coles said head coach Hansen had been furious with his players at half-time, giving them one of the biggest dressing-downs he’s experienced.

“It was one of the better ones I’ve heard. And rightly so, to be fair. We deserved it,” said Coles, rating it as a nine or 10 out of 10. “It was good, a bit old-fashioned, you don’t really see that too much these days. But I think it was just what we needed to get things going,” he said.

“When that first word came out of his mouth I knew something was on.”

Hansen, however, described the half-time team talk a little differently.

“We just talked about making sure we got our heads in the right place and simplify the game a little bit — carry hard and clean out and hold onto the ball,” he said.

Sevu Reece, Ben Smith and Anton Lienert-Brown grabbed two tries each, while Angus Ta’avao, Joe Moody, Sam Whitelock and Jordie Barrett also scored before Perenara had the last word.

“It was pretty impressive, we just talked in the huddle about making sure that we finish the game strong and TJ was pretty excited,” Whitelock said. “He said yep, if there’s an opportunity let’s really go for it. A couple of half-backs linked up and I’m not sure how he got it down but it was pretty impressive.”

Assistant coach Ian Foster said: “I think it’s probably our fault as coaches. We put two nines [scrumhalves] on together so mayhem was always going to happen, wasn’t it?

“I take my hat off to them, I thought TJ made some really good decisions and playing with Brad provided a special moment with that pass.” 

AFP