New Zealand put last weekend’s loss to Ireland behind them as they claimed an emphatic 68-10 win over Italy in Rome on Saturday.
Italy had to face the anger of the world champions who bounced back strongly after that defeat in Chicago. It was a comprehensive win for the All Blacks,who outscored their hosts by 10 tries to one in the end.
The game began with the All Blacks running the ball from all areas of the field and Malakai Fekitoa crossed for the first try in the fourth minute.
Aaron Cruden slotted in the conversion as New Zealand took an early seven point lead. Italy replied via a penalty from Carlo Canna and the game looked even at 3-7 around the 15-minute mark.
But the floodgates soon opened and New Zealand kept offloading the ball at will while the Azzurri struggled to keep up with the pace and power of the world champions.
Tries from Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu and Israel Dagg took the game away from the hosts while Cruden delivered great performance and was impressive in the playmaker roles. He also kicked all of his seven conversions to add to the home side’s pain.
Wyatt Crockett scored next after some skilful handling as the Italians did not have an answer to the pace and intensity of the All Blacks. Crockett had a good game in general and also helped to set up a couple of tries.
Italy were looking towards their captain, Sergio Parisse, to make an impact in the game but the hosts did not have continuous possession of the ball which meant they were always playing catch-up. The New Zealanders were so good in defence that the Italians rarely played outside their own half.
The score at the end of the first half was 3-35, with the only points for Italy coming from Canna’s penalty .
The All Blacks continued with their expansive play and prolific try scoring during the second half as they stepped up a couple of gears on attack. A cross-field kick from Cruden towards Dixon set up the next try as the big loose forward ran 40 metres upfield before easily offloading the ball to Luatua who took it over the line.
Fekitoa scored his second try of the game close to the hour mark and then Dixon scored a try after Aaron Smith made an important break.
Another example of the All Blacks dominating the game was that they did not score any penalties. They opted for the scrum or kicked for touch in a vid to score tries and were rewarded most of the time. Their strength in the scrum was supreme and, as usual, pace with the ball on the field was a sight to behold.
Italy scored a late consolation try through Tommaso Boni after Edoardo Gori intercepted a loose pass and Boni ran more than 50 metres before dotting downe. Tommaso Allan kicked the conversion perfectly to take Italy’s score to 10 points.
Two more tries from the All Blacks, who continued to dominate until the end of the game, and a couple of conversions from Sopoaga, who only missed one shot at goal, meant that the visitors sealed a resounding win in Rome.
Rieko Ioane, the 19-year-old debutant, showed his power as they scored the ninth try of the game after forcing his way through the Italian defence before Waisake Naholo crossed for the 10th try three minutes before full-time.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Fekitoa 2, Faumuina, Tuipulotu, Dagg, Crockett, Luatua, Dixon, Ioane, Naholo
Cons: Cruden 7, Sopoaga 2
Italy: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Angelo Esposito, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Giorgio Bronzini, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Maxime Mbanda, 5 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Ornel Gega, 17 Sami Panico, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 George Biagi, 20 Francesco Minto, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Tommaso Boni
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Rieko Ioane
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Alex Ruiz (France), Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)