Rugby World Cup 2007
New Zealand sweep Romania aside
September 29, 2007
Joe Rokocoko beats the Romanian defence to score
© Getty Images
New Zealand stormed to a 85-8 victory over Romania in their Rugby World Cup Pool C clash in Toulouse. The All Blacks went through the motions in flicking aside a fourth World Cup rugby opponent here today but the 85-8 defeat of Romania here was not the statement of intent they were chasing.
In a final pool match that lacked structure because of the disparate skill levels on display, New Zealand racked up 13 tries but could not produce a performance of authority a week out from their quarterfinal at Cardiff.
The All Blacks had a hellish time winning phase ball against feisty opposition and, in frustration, their error rate crept up near to what unfolded against Scotland a week earlier. A late flurry of scoring helped to inflate the score. Joe Rokocoko landing a hattrick of tries while there were doubles for fellow-winger Sitiveni Sivivatu, centre Isaia Toeava and to Nick Evans, who spent time at fullback and first five-eighth.
New Zealand led 31-0 after 24 minutes but much flow disappeared through the middle stages of the match courtesy of some torturously long delays at scrum time, injury stoppages and the 15th-ranked Romanians' attempts to slow down All Blacks ball at the breakdown.
Henry would have been pleased there were no apparent injuries. Crocked first five-eighth Daniel Carter was watching on from the stand, encouragingly without the strapping on his injured calf of yesterday.
An update on his availability for the quarterfinals was not expected until early next week. In his absence, Luke McAlister filled in at 10 effectively enough but Evans looked livelier in the role when shifted there for the last 25 minutes as the game opened up.
Evans was also the more accurate goalkicker, landing six from six conversions in a 22-point haul while McAlister slotted four from seven shots. Few fringe players pushed their cause to be included in the top team next week. Keith Robinson looked short of a gallop but will be pleased to have come through his 55 minutes unscathed after a month spent recuperating from a calf injury.
Fellow-lock Reuben Thorne and hooker Keven Mealamu were reliable performers in their 50th tests but the forward pack struggled to quell staunch opponents who refused to buckle at the set piece and the breakdown. Halfback Andrew Ellis was busy in his first test start and prominent in support play but had problems dealing with messy ball at the back of the scrum.
Evans and Rokocoko were the most incisive of the backs. It is the end of the tournament for Romania, who have just a win over Portugal to their credit. They tired noticeably in the closing stages, not helped by more than half the team starting their fourth consecutive match.
They were on the back foot from the outset, conceding a try to Sivivatu after just 38 seconds. Pre-match All Blacks talk of ensuring the basics were attended to first went out the window as McAlister broke from near his tryline to start a sweeping movement. It then took some time for All Blacks to crank back into gear.
Flanker Chris Masoe crossed off a slick inside pass from Ellis, followed by rapid-fire tries to Rokocoko and Evans. Sivivatu had his second before Romania enjoyed their best period, resulting in a try to hooker Marius Tincu after waves of pick-and-go drives on New Zealand's tryline.
Aaron Mauger rounded out the first-half scoring after some neat leadup work from midfield partner Toeava, taking the score to 36-5. Toeava crossed himself soon after the break, followed by a try to reserve hooker Andre Hore, sandwiched between two Rokocoko specials.
Romania added to their tally when Florin Vlaicu slotted a penalty but Evans, replacement winger Doug Howlett and Toeava all dashed over for tries in the last five minutes. A fourth handsome win has seen the All Blacks set a World Cup record for the most points scored in pool play. Their tally of 309 eclipses the old mark of 282, which they set four years ago while the 46 tries they have compiled also goes past their old record of 42 of 2003.
New Zealand (36) 85
Romania (5) 8
New Zealand: Evans, Rokocoko, Toeava, Mauger, Sivivatu, McAlister, Ellis, Tialata, Mealamu, Somerville, Thorne, Robinson, Collins, Masoe, Lauaki.
Replacements: Hore, Woodcock, Jack, McCaw, Leonard, Howlett, Smith.
Romania: Dumitras, Ciuntu, Gal, Gontineac, Brezoianu, Dimofte, Sirbu, B. Balan, Tincu, Florea, Socol, Petre, Corodeanu, Manta, Tonita.
Replacements: Mavrodin, Ion, Ursache, Ratiu, Calafeteanu, Vlaicu, Dascalu.
Referee: Joel Jutge (France)