US Eagles 6-74 New Zealand
All Blacks dish out rugby lesson to USA
November 1, 2014
Sonny Bill Williams had much to celebrate on his All Blacks return
© Getty Images
The All Blacks went on a romp under the Chicago sun to beat United States 74-6 in their historic Test at Soldier Field. In the first rugby international played at an NFL venue, a sold-out crowd of 61,500 witnessed the world champion New Zealanders teach the 18th-ranked Eagles a lesson in all aspects of the game.
Code-hopping Sonny Bill Williams scored two of the visitors' 12 unanswered tries and had another ruled out in his first Test appearance for more than two years. Williams unfurled a standout performance before limping off with an apparent hip problem midway through the second half.
There were also first-half injuries to hooker Nathan Harris (foot) and wing Cory Jane (hamstring), leaving all three under a cloud ahead of three Tests in the United Kingdom. The side face England at Twickenham next week. That Test will be a contrast to the festival football played by the All Blacks, who withstood a staunch opening from the hosts.
The first 15 minutes were marked by regular chants of "USA USA" from the steepling stands as a committed home side tore in the collisions. That wasn't to be heard again as New Zealand rattled off six tries in the 25min before halftime, unleashing slick passes, elusiveness and speed to split a naive defensive line.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen dished out praise to his virtual second-string team.
"They were tasked with setting a foundation for the rest of the tour," he said. "There's a lot of excitement now and, when there's excitement, things can happen."
US counterpart Mike Tolkin admits his side were overwhelmed by New Zealand's speed and precision.
New Zealand blow away Eagles in Windy City
"When you get under pressure after a whole bunch of phases of play, only one team was going to crack and the world champions didn't," he said. "What we saw out there was ruthless efficiency. Every mistake they punished, not with anything fancy but simple fundamental skills to put the ball over the line."
Harris scored in the third minute while another forward making his first start, lock Patrick Tuipulotu, also crossed. Other first-half try-scorers were Williams (two), wing Charles Piutau, Jane and his replacement, Julian Savea.
Prop Joe Moody, first five-eighth Aaron Cruden, fullback Israel Dagg and flanker Sam Cane notched second-half tries as some impetus went out of the contest. Savea nabbed his second in the final play, taking his record to 29 tries from 30 Tests.
Cruden, who kicked four from nine conversion attempts, made way for Dan Carter in the 50th minute. Playmaking great Carter, playing his first Test for nearly a year, looked at ease and slotted his three shots from wide out.
US first five-eighth Adam Siddall kicked two penalties while their captain and 60-Test flanker Todd Clever was the standout figure in a toiling pack which won its share of possession.
The All Blacks revelled in bright conditions which were a vast improvement on the snow and biting wind that struck the city on Friday. It was a performance to match a colourful occasion.
Sonny Bill Williams scored two tries on his return © Getty Images