The Latest: All Blacks close in on World Cup quarters again

TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on Day 17 of the Rugby World Cup in Japan (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

New Zealand has moved closer to a ninth quarterfinals berth in nine Rugby World Cups after accounting for Namibia 71-9.

New Zealand, which has never lost a pool game, will play Italy next weekend in a bid to sweep Pool B. The All Blacks would have to lose to Italy next Saturday to have any risk of missing out on the knockout stage.

Just four days after blitzing Canada 63-0, the All Blacks increased the highest score at this World Cup with a victory by 11 tries to nil at Tokyo Stadium.

The only negative for New Zealand was yellow cards for props Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tuungafasi, both for arm tackles hitting the ball-carriers' heads, though both times the Namibians were ducking down and low.

Still, being a man short for the end of both halves didn't even register with the All Blacks, who scored four tries while down to 14 men.


2:40 p.m.

New Zealand's attempt to clinch a quarterfinals place was being stubbornly opposed by unfancied Namibia at Tokyo Stadium.

The All Blacks, with prop Nepo Laulala in the sin-bin, led only 24-9 at halftime, four tries to three penalties.

New Zealand led 10-3 after first-quarter tries by Sevu Reece and Anton Lienert-Brown, but Namibia better controlled possession and forced penalties. Damian Stevens, who kicked the first points in the third minute, kicked his side to trail only 10-9.

Laulala was then yellow-carded in the 31st for his tackling arm hitting Namibia winger Lesley Klim in the head.

But while they had 14 men, the All Blacks patiently worked the phases, and Angus Ta'avao, the temporary replacement for Laulala, and fullback Ben Smith in injury time, crossed for tries. Jordie Barrett converted both, after having one charged down by Stevens.


1 p.m.

Captain Siya Kolisi and center Damian de Allende are the only starting players backing up to face Canada at the Rugby World Cup four days after South Africa's 49-3 win over Italy in Pool B.

Springboks rugby director Rassie Erasmus made 13 changes to his starting XV for Tuesday's game, promoting five players who were on the bench i against Italy and giving Damian Willemse a start at fullback just five days after arriving in Japan as an injury replacement.

Frontrower Thomas du Toit and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach wil get their first starts of the tournament. A win with a bonus point against Canada should be enough for South Africa to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. The Springboks recovered from an opening loss to defending champion New Zealand with lopsided wins over Namibia and Italy.

"A four-day turnaround between tests is a challenge but we had planned for it and will be well prepared," Erasmus said. "This match is just as important as the three that we have already played — it has the same number of log points available and the same impact on our chances of qualifying and we have to now complete the job."

Canada lost its 48-7 to Italy and 63-0 to New Zealand in its first two pool games.

South Africa: Damian Willemse, Warrick Gelant, Damian de Allende, Frans Steyn, Sbu Nkosi, Elton Jantjies, Cobus Reinach; Francois Louw, Kwagga Smith, Siya Kolisi (captain), Franco Mostert, RG Snyman, Vincent Koch, Schalk Brits, Thomas du Toit. Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Herschel Jantjies, Handre Pollard, Willie le Roux.


12:30 p.m.

New Zealand hasn't lost a match at the Rugby World Cup since a quarterfinal upset in 2007, a record streak of 16 wins at the sport's marquee tournament.

Namibia hasn't won a match in 21 starts at the World Cup, and is the tournament's lowest-ranked team.

So there's two streaks that are almost certain to be extended on Sunday when the three-time champion All Blacks meet Namibia at Tokyo Stadium.

New Zealand won the only previous meeting between the teams 58-14 four years ago in England, with Johan Deysel crossing for Namibia's try and Theuns Kotze landing three penalty goals.

In the later game at Kumamoto, France will play Tonga in Pool C. T


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