New Zealand All Blacks send loud warning shot to World Cup rivals with 14 try demolition of hapless Italy. –The Guardian

By Roger Childs

Massive win in Lyon

This was a must-win game for New Zealand and some pundits thought it could be close. But the All Blacks played some of their best rugby of the year to run out winners by a massive 96-17. This is the highest score so far in the tournament.

New Zealand ran in 14 tries with 13 being converted and Italy picked up two to give the full house of 57.000 in Lyon a highly entertaining spectacle. All the injured All Black players were back and fortunately there were no casualties during the match.

This win assures the team of a place in the quarter-finals, probably against Ireland.

One-sided from the start

The All Blacks never the Azzurri into the match, and scored five converted tries in the first 27 minutes. The tries kept coming, although there was a10 minute lull early in the second half. This was a complete performance from the New Zealand team and local fans would have been delighted. 

In the set pieces the All Blacks never lost a lineout and won two off the Italians. They were also far too strong in the scrums and frequently picked up penalties from pushing their opponents back. Captain Ardie Savea led from the front with powerful running, slick passing and solid tackling, and scored two tries. 

The strength of the All Black performance was the excellent combining of backs and forwards. Four tries were scored from well-timed passes to players backing up:

  • Beauden Barrett to Mark Telea
  • Jordie Barrett to  Aaron Smith
  • Mark Telea to  Dalton Papilli
  • Cam Roigard to Anton Lienert Brown.

New Zealand mixed up the tactics such as from a lineout close to the line – there was no drive for the line but instead Frizzel took the ball and passed to Savea for the captain to score.

The coaches emptied the bench in the second half and the eight replacements all played well. Cam Roigard was especially impressive and he has now cemented his place as the number two half back.

Better discipline and few mistakes

There were fewer penalties than in previous games and no-one picked up a yellow card. It’s vital that this more disciplined approach continues in the games coming up. 

It looks as if the All Blacks are likely to play number one team Ireland in the quarter finals. This will be a tough one but based on the form against Italy New Zealand are capable of winning.