Rugby World Cup 2007
Eleven try New Zealand off to a flyer
September 8, 2007
Doug Howlett races away to score one of New Zealand's eleven tries
© Getty Images
New Zealand underlined their favouritism with a clinical destruction of an outclassed Italy in the opening game of pool C at The Velodrome in Marseille. The All Blacks made a whirlwind start with five tries in the first 18 minutes to blow away potentially dangerous opponents and quickly stave off the threat of another upset following France's defeat by Argentina.
The Azzurri simply had no answer to the power and pace of Graham Henry's men, who will move on in confident mood to Lyon next Saturday, where next group opponents Portugal will await their fate with trepidation. New Zealand never looked back after an opening quarter in which everything came off for them and they made the most of perfect conditions to run in 11 tries.
Three of them came from Munster-bound winger Doug Howlett, who equalled Christian Cullen's All Blacks record of 46, while Dan Carter kicked 17 points. Captain Richie McCaw set the pattern, supporting breaks from Ali Williams and Byron Kelleher to touch down twice in the first seven minutes.
Henry had been forced to re-shuffle his side following the loss of centre Conrad Smith and flanker Reuben Thorne with hamstring injuries but, if anything, the changes worked in their favour. Leon MacDonald, drafted in at full-back, sent Howlett over for his first try and clever kicks from fly-half Dan Carter created touchdowns for Mils Muliaina, switched from full-back to centre, and left winger Sitiveni Sivivatu.
At 38-0 down after 17 minutes, Italy were facing a repeat of their 101-3 hammering in the 1999 World Cup in Huddersfield but they managed to steady the boat. Sivavatu grabbed a second try on 28 minutes but the plucky Italians pulled a try back just before half-time when Bristol winger Marko Stanojevic swooped on a stray pass from Kelleher to sprint 60 metres for an interception try.
But the Azzurri failed to make the most of the sin-binning of All Blacks prop Carl Hayman two minutes into the second half throwing a punch and they slipped further behind when lock Chris Jack romped through their defence for a rare try. Howlett then pounced twice in five minutes to complete his hat-trick before the Italians were reduced to 14 men with the sin-binning of prop Salvatore Perugini for dangerous play.
Lock Jerry Collins made them pay with two quick-fire tries, both converted by replacement Luke McAllister, but the Italians at least had the final say when Mirco Bergamasco claimed a consolation try.
New Zealand (43) 76
Italy (7) 14
New Zealand: MacDonald; Howlett, Muliaina, McAlister, Sivivatu; Carter, Kelleher; Woodcock, Mealamu, Hayman, Jack, Williams, Collins, McCaw, So'oialo.
Replacements: Oliver, Tialata, Masoe, Lauaki, Leonard, Mauger, Toeava.
Italy: Bortolussi; Robertson, Masi, Mirco Bergamasco, Stanojevic; De Marigny, Troncon; Perugini, Ongaro, Castrogiovanni, Dellape, Bortolami (capt), Zanni, Mauro Bergamasco, Parisse.
Replacements: Festuccia, Lo Cicero, Bernabo, Vosawai, Griffen, Canale, Galon.