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Rampant All Blacks ease past Italy in 14-try World Cup blitz

By Finn Morton
rdie Savea of New Zealand celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's fourth try during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between New Zealand and Italy at Parc Olympique on September 29, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

LYON – The All Blacks have taken a significant step towards a potential quarterfinal showdown with northern hemisphere heavyweights Ireland after easing past Italy 96-17 at the Rugby World Cup.


Some fans on social media dared to dream of an incredible Italian upset ahead of the decisive clash at OL Stadium, but the All Blacks silenced their doubters with a clinical display on Friday night.

Halfback Aaron Smith stole the show with a first-half hat-trick, and world-class backrower Ardie Savea added a pair of tries to the score as New Zealand ran away with a dominant half-time lead.

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When referee Matthew Carly blew his whistle for half-time around 9.45 pm, the contest already appeared over. With a half to play, the All Blacks were firmly in control.

As hours turned into minutes and minutes into seconds, the palpable sense of nervousness and excitement could be felt both in the city and later within the packed venue.

Fans from both New Zealand and Italy watched on in anticipation as the All Blacks laid down their challenge with a spine-tingling rendition of Ka Mate.

With the Italian players standing tall, the crowd let out a deafening cheer as both teams got into position ahead of the must-win match.


The opening minute was quite incredible. Both teams showed signs of promise, but the All Blacks emerged the better of the two sides in the battle for territory.

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New Zealand win +79
Time in lead
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% Of Game In Lead
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Veteran Aaron Smith dinked a clever kick in behind Italy’s defensive line, and the next couple of minutes favoured the All Blacks.

Following a dropped pass inside the Italian 22, the crowd let out chants of ‘All Blacks, All Blacks, All Blacks’ as Smith fed the ball into an attacking scrum no more than 10 metres out from the try line.

Moments later, Will Jordan reeled in a brilliant cross-field kick from centre Jordie Barrett. Jordan still had some work to do, but an acrobatic finish saw the wing score the first try of the night.


Playmaker Richie Mo’unga nailed the conversion from the right touchline, and New Zealand already looked in control. But Italy showed signs of life with fullback Thomas Allan converting a penalty in the 9th minute.

But it was all New Zealand from there. Tries to Smith, Mark Telea, Ardie Savea and another two from Smith saw the All Blacks race out to a commanding 42-3 lead with six minutes to play in the first.

The Italian players were hurting, or at least that’s how it looked. The match hadn’t gone to script for them so far as the All Blacks ran riot.

New Zealand piled on more misery before the half-time break with rampaging backrower Ardie Savea completing a first-half double with time up on the clock.

The All Blacks took a 46-point lead into the break. They were so dominant, that their commanding lead eclipsed their 47-9 full-time score the last time these two nations met in 2021.

Much to the delight of the Italian supporters watching on in France, wing Ange Capuozzo scored the opening points of the second half with a well-worked try.

Italy refused to throw in the towel, but their valiant efforts were ultimately in vain.

The All Blacks overcame their slow start the only way they knew how. Tries to Brodie Retallick, Dalton Papali’i and Dane Coles saw the Kiwis reach 68 points with 20 minutes to play.

But the New Zealanders were far from done.

Replacement Damian McKenzie sliced through the Italian defensive line to help the All Blacks surge past the 70-point mark, and another try to Will Jordan only made things worse for the Italians.

Tries to Dane Coles and Anton Lienert-Brown helped the All Blacks soar even higher as they recorded a frighteningly dominant win.


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Alex 287 days ago

29 mins the ball was in play for SA vs Ire. Compare that with is game. Granted the opposition wasn't as strong, but, gee I know what kind of rugby I'd prefer to watch.

Nigel 288 days ago

NZ got it all together on the night. Massive effort from the forwards laid the foundation for the romp. It might well only have been Italy but they certainly seem to have ironed out all the problems that beset them against France. If they continue in this vein can't see Ireland beating them.

Nigellas 288 days ago

Excited to see the All Blacks thrash the Irish and deny them a semifinal.

alex 288 days ago

Good to see a dominant, aggressive, physical all black performance from the forwards which set a good platform to work off, this Italy team have been a good 5 nations performer in 2023 and they struggled to get any kind of game plan going, they were destroyed. In the quarters the all blacks vs Irish game will be head turning, if this team can maintain their physicality, discipline and consistency they will compete strongly, hold your bets

Pecos 288 days ago


Utiku Old Boy 288 days ago

Congratulations on a fine team effort and to Sam Whitelock on an amazing milestone! Not too much of a contest in the end but the ABs were dominant. Scrum and lineout went well and good to see the loose forwards much more cohesive - until Cane came on! Not much to complain about except the potential for complacency since Foster's men tend to be up and down.

Mark 288 days ago

Italian rugby sleeps with the fishes 😢

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