Planet Rugby

ABs ready for Cardiff

29th September 2007 13:44

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Joe Rokocoko v Romania

Running for the record: Joe Rokocoko

New Zealand recorded a resounding 85-8 win over Romania on Saturday, with a welter of ominously well-finished tries showing that they are ready for whoever they may face in the Cardiff quarter-final next weekend.

Joe Rokocoko was once again in prolific form, crossing the Romanian try-line three times. Sitiveni Sivivatu and outside centre Isaia Toeava each scored a brace.

While Graham Henry's charges weren't always clinical - there were once again too many unforced errors from the Tri-Nations champions - they also displayed some of their best rugby in the entire World Cup thus far.

There were areas of concern though and coach Henry would have to be foolish to deny it. The All Blacks struggled at the restarts, regularly not collecting the ball cleanly and often squandering valuable try-scoring opportunities. Fortunately there was an abundance of opportunities on the day.

The Oaks were very competent opponents at times and made the All Blacks work hard to retain possession, especially in the tackle situation.

Scrum-half Andy Ellis, who made the most of his rare opportunity to wear the All Black number nine jersey in this World Cup campaign, often struggled to get clean supply from his forwards.

The Romanians certainly stood their ground in the set pieces and can be proud of their solid forward play which led to their opening try in the 30th minute of the game, courtesy of hooker Marius Tincu.

However, it was once again the Romanian defensive patterns that proved costly.

Sivivatu opened the All Black account after just 37 seconds, when pivot Luke McAlister, running in his own 22, found a gaping hole in the Oaks' defence before setting up a long-distance effort for the big wing.

The signs were immediately ominous for the European minnows. Just seven minutes later Ellis single-handedly created what was an early candidate for moment of the game, when his crisp pass found Chris Masoe, who merely need to cross the line in the 9th minute.

Rokocoko scored another just six minutes later, but it was the 17th minute Nick Evans try that really caught our attention. The build-up to the Evans try included some enthralling interplay from loose-forwards Sione Lauaki and Jerry Collins - some of the handling from the All Black forwards was sublime.

Sivivatu's second try, six minutes later, was just as impressive. But following that the All Blacks seemed to lose some of their intensity.

For the first time in the match the All Black defence was tested and it failed dismally when Tincu scored for the minnows.

Periods of the second-half were very quiet for the All Blacks. While Aaron Mauger and Toeava added their names to the score sheet early on, the team went through two ten-minute spells without even looking close to scoring.

The Romanians, who had been expected to fade by half-time were still playing with great heart and determination - they certainly weren't going to hand the game to the All Blacks on a silver platter.

From the 57th minute to the end of the game, it was the quality All Black bench that made an impact. Chris Jack, who came on for Keith Robinson, made a mid-field break before setting up Rokocoko's second try of the afternoon.

In between, Richie McCaw again proved to most why he was regarded as the best player in the world when he came onto the field, taking full control at the break-down.

Doug Howlett was as busy as a bee, always in the thick of things and in the last fifteen minutes the All Blacks looked very impressive - hopefully for Henry they can carry that form into the knock-out rounds.

A further four sterling All Black tries were added in the last 14 minutes, capping another easy day at the office for Henry's men. The tough work is only about to begin though, with the October 7 quarter-final in Cardiff - probably against France - looming.

Man of the match: Andy Ellis made the most of his World Cup start, playing a significant role in at least two of the more impressive All Black tries. His distribution was sound and he made a number of good clearances from the base of the scrum. He is our man-of-the-match for the day.

Moment of the match: Most of the All Black tries were absolutely superb, the best of which was the world-class 78th minute Doug Howlett score. The All Blacks showed once again how sensational their handling can be with Brendon Leonard, Nick Evans, Conrad Smith and Aaron Mauger running great angles before setting Howlett free. But if we were to be sentimental, the first and only Romanian try courtesy of Marius Tincu in the 30th minute was a classic display of good, solid forward play and was perhaps equally deserving of moment-of-the-match.

Villain of the match: Sione Lauaki made a ghastly swinging-arm tackle on an opposition player in the 50th minute, and there was another one shortly before from Keven Mealamu. Do you really need to tackle like that when leading by 40 points?

The scorers:

For New Zealand:

Tries: Sivivatu 2, Masoe, Rokocoko 3, Evans, Mauger, Toeava 2, Hore, Smith, Howlett,

Cons: McAlister 7, Evans 3

For Romania:

Try: Tincu

Pen: Vlaicu

New Zealand: 15 Nick Evans, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jerry Collins (c), 5 Keith Robinson, 4 Reuben Thorne, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Neemia Tialata.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Chris Jack, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Doug Howlett, 22 Conrad Smith.

Romania: 15 Iulian Dumitras, 14 Stefan Ciuntu, 13 Csaba Gal, 12 Romeo Gontineac, 11 Gabriel Brezoianu, 10 Ionut Dimofte, 9 Lucian Sirbu, 8 Ovidiu Tonita, 7 Alexandru Manta, 6 Florin Corodeanu, 5 Cristian Petre, 4 Sorin Socol (c), 3 Silviu Florea, 2 Marius Tincu, 1 Bogdan Balan.

Replacements: 16 Razvan Mavrodin, 17 Paulica Ion, 18 Valentin Ursache, 19 Cosmin Ratiu, 20 Valentin Calafeteanu, 21 Florin Vlaicu, 22 Catalin Robert Dascalu.

Referee: JoŽl Jutge

Touch judges: Federico Cuesta, Malcolm Changleng

Television match official: Paul Marks

Assessor: Tappe Henning

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