All Blacks engulf Italy

Henry

Never write off an All Black rugby team, especially not a wounded one.

Just think back to the second test in 1970 at Newlands after the All Blacks lost the first test at Loftus Versfeld against the Boks.

Think of their masterful 57-15 wins against the Boks in 2016 in Durban, when they thrashed the Boks 57-0 in Albany in 2016, and thrashed the Boks 28-0 in Dunedin in 1999 under Nick Mallett.

Yes, there were slumps and two defeats this year, with 7-35 against the Boks at Twickenham in a World Cup training match and when they were beaten 27-13 against the French in the opening game of this year’s World Cup tournament.

But on Friday night in Lyon, the All Blacks put those disappointments aside as they have done so many times in the past when they crushed Italy 96-17 in their Group A clash.

It was the All Blacks’ second biggest win over Italy after they destroyed the Azzurri 101-3 in the 1999 World Cup.

The All Blacks scored their bonus point try in 22 minutes on Friday night, they scored 14 tries in total and kicked open the door to in all likelihood play Ireland in the quarter-finals of this year’s World Cup tournament.

The All Blacks were relentless, they strangled Italy, their discipline was excellent as they only conceded seven penalties. They won all 14 of their lineouts, missed three lineout balls from the Italians, scrummed solidly, dominated the loose play and cooked at the back.

The experienced players like Aaron Smith, Codie Taylor, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett and Ardie Savea laid the foundations.

Yes, it was just Italy, many people will say.

They then played into the All Blacks’ hands by trying to run with every ball. But it was also the same Italians who, with such tactics, only lost 24-28 against the French and 20-34 against the Irish in this year’s Six Nations.

This was the same Italy that beat Australia 28-27 in 2002, defeated Wales 22-21 in 2022 and beat Japan 41-21.

The All Blacks were never under pressure and with all their injured players such as Jordie Barrett, Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane and Tyrel Lomax back in the fold, it ignited the spark in the rest of the team.

Their bench of substitutes, just like that of the Boks, is now again a big plus.

The All Blacks (10 points) are second in Group A after France (14 points).

The French have yet to finish against Italy.

The All Blacks still have to play Uruguay and if all goes according to plan, they will earn five points to play against the winner of Group B (Ireland or the Springboks).

If the All Blacks play like they did against Italy, they can play in the semi-finals as well as reach the final.

Scorers: New Zealand 96 (41): Tries: Will Jordan (2), Aaron Smith (3), Mark Telea, Ardie Savea (2), Brodie Retallick, Dalton Papali’i, Dan Coles (2), Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown. Goals: Richie Mo’unga (9), Damian McKenzie (4).

Italy 17 (3): Tries: Ange Capuozzo, Monty Ioane.

Goals: Tommaso Allan, Paolo Garbisi. Penalty Goal: Tommaso Allan.