Slow-starting All Blacks thump Italy in error-ridden affair
New Zealand have set world records for the most test points and tries scored in a calendar year with a second-string All Blacks team crossing the line seven times in a 47-9 win over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Ian Foster’s side have scored 96 tries in 2021, breaking Argentina’s record of 92 set in 2003, while their total points tally now stands at 675, eclipsing South Africa’s 658-point haul from 2007.
Finlay Christie crossed first on Saturday before man of the match Dane Coles scored twice in an error-strewn first-half performance from the visitors.
Paolo Garbisi’s boot kept the Azzurri in touch until the All Blacks pulled clear in the final quarter, when Sevu Reece crossed and replacement hooker Asafo Aumua scored twice, either side of a Hoskins Sotutu try.
Former All Black Kieran Crowley was making his debut as Italy head coach, while his New Zealand counterpart Foster named a new line-up after last week’s 54-16 win in Wales.
The lack of continuity showed in a mistake-ridden opening quarter as the All Blacks made nine handling errors and conceded six penalties in 20 minutes, but Italy could not punish them as they opted to send two kickable penalties to the corner without reward.
New Zealand broke through after 28 minutes when they dominated a five-metre Italian scrum and replacement scrum-half Christie, on for the injured Brad Weber, stretched over the line.
Dane Coles extended their advantage three minutes later, charging over from the back of a driving line out.
The hooker repeated the trick a second time before half-time between two Garbisi penalties, with Richie Mo’unga adding the extras from the tee for a third time, as the All Blacks went in 21-6 up at the break.
Garbisi reduced the deficit to 12 points as the clock approached the hour mark, but New Zealand pulled away as their replacements provided fresh impetus.
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A clever Ofa Tuungafasi offload sent Christie clear into the Italian 22, and he offloaded to Reece who sprinted over the line.
Italy’s resistance crumbled when Aumua scored his first try from the back of a maul and George Bridge broke the line to set up Sotutu for a simple finish in the space of two minutes.
Aumua got his second of the day with four minutes left on the clock as the All Blacks recorded a third straight win of their autumn tour ahead of the remaining Tests against Ireland and France.
– Alasdair Mackenzie
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