Menu allblacks.com

News

Emerging All Blacks state their case against Italy

Getty Images

Lynn McConnell     13 Nov 2016     Getty Images

It wasn't a happy day for the home side, who had suggested before the game they were going to move the ball around, but the intent was never realised as they fell into a kicking game that lacked accuracy or finesse.

That merely allowed the New Zealand rearguard plenty of opportunities to run the ball back at a defence that was never strong enough to contain an All Blacks side that while inexperienced was efficient in the extreme.

Centre Malakai Fekitoa scored two tries but there were also first tries in Test rugby to flanker Elliot Dixon and replacement wing Rieko Ioane.

New Zealand hadn't enjoyed any set piece possession before a five-metre scrum from Italy's line created after a long kick by first five-eighths Aaron Cruden resulted in a forward pass in the attempted Italian clearance.

From the scrum a simple backline move with a bunched group close to the scrum resulted in Fekitoa crossing, untouched, by the posts.

It became something of a procession through the middle stages of the half as the All Blacks' dominated possession complemented by the wayward kicking game from new Italian first five-eighths Carlo Canna. His kicks were either too deep, or uncontested, giving the All Blacks the opportunity to run the ball back against what proved a fickle defensive screen.

Continuity play was behind the 15th minute try to prop Charlie Faumuina while lock Patrick Tuipulotu was the beneficiary from a lineout drive following a penalty kick into Italy's 22m area. Off the second ruck he was unstoppable with the ball in hand four minutes later.

Wing Israel Dagg capped another piece of impressive All Blacks' build-up where fullback Damian McKenzie was at his mischievous best before second five-eighths Anton Lienert-Brown flicked a backhand pass to Dagg, who ran on a tangent across the goal-line to score.

More power close to the goal-line where wing Waisake Naholo set up an opportunity and saw flanker Elliot Dixon carry the ball to the line and it was finished off by prop Wyatt Crockett to give the All Blacks a 35-3 lead at half-time.

One way of minimising the restrictions cause by the narrowness of the field at Stadio Olimpico was the use of chip kicks to the flanks, mainly from Cruden. Four minutes into the second half it produced the sixth try. Cruden found hooker Codie Taylor who lobbed the cross-kick down to Dixon who sprinted along the sideline before unloading to supporting No.8 Steven Luatua who scored.

Making their second-half substitutions the All Blacks benefited in the 58th minute when lock Brodie Retallick slipped a mid-field pass to Crockett, who stepped through a gap with ease and then found Fekitoa inside him for the pass leading to his second try.

Halfback Aaron Smith latched onto an untidy lineout about 30m out from the line. He linked with flanker Matt Todd who took the ball to the line where Dixon was able to race in and pick up the ball to score his first Test try.

Italy took advantage of an intercepted pass by replacement Edoardo Gori who was able to get the ball to another replacement Tommaso Boni. He beat a solitary tackle attempt by Lima Sopoaga to score.

However, Sopoaga was in the action moments later when taking the ball to the line and finding a gap before setting a ruck which saw the ball moved to Ioane who used his power to drive over for his maiden Test try.

Then, from another move Lienert-Brown's dab inside pass found Naholo running onto the ball to complete the All Blacks' scoring.

After the hiccup in Chicago the game was the perfect fillip for an All Blacks side contemplating a fascinating return encounter with Ireland in Dublin next week.

Scorers: Italy 10 (Tommaso Boni try; Carlo Canna pen; Tommy Allan con) New Zealand 68 (Malakati Fekitoa 2, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Israel Dagg, Wyatt Crockett, Steven Luatua, Elliot Dixon, Rieko Ioane, Waisake Naholo tries; Aaron Cruden 7 con; Lima Sopoaga 2 con). HT: 3-35