New Zealand – Italy: Rampant All Blacks lay down World Cup marker

New Zealand 96-17 Italy: Rampant All Blacks lay down World Cup marker by thrashing Italians with an incredible FOURTEEN tries in huge win

  • New Zealand hammer Italy 96-17 in Lyon to show their World Cup credentials 
  • Aaron Smith claimed a first-half hat-trick as the All Blacks registered 14 tries 
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  • Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results

Aaron Smith claimed a first-half hat-trick on a night of All Black magic, as written-off New Zealand delivered a stunning statement about their revived status as prime World Cup challengers.

This result will send shockwaves around the tournament. Italy were put to the sword as if they were hapless part-timers. They were utterly humiliated; conceding 14 tries and only just keeping the score against them to double-figures.

To think that there was pre-match speculation about the possibility of an upset. It didn’t take long for that outlandish theory to be buried under an avalanche of points and the ominous rumble of so much one-way traffic. Smith ran amok. Jordie Barrett was magnificent in midfield.

Ardie Savea led the onslaught – rampaging through feeble Azzurri tackles. All Blacks queued up to win turn-overs. Richie Mo’unga kept hitting the target with wide conversions. Later, when the dam had long since burst, some of the running lines and handling feats were astonishing to behold. It was a dazzling exhibition of New Zealand rugby in full flow.

‘People created a lot of panic about our chances, after we lost that first game, but the critical game in the pool was always going to be this one and it was a really good performance,’ said their head coach, Ian Foster. ‘We have a lot of respect for Italy and I didn’t see that game coming, to that extent. We took their hope away in the first 20 minutes.’

The New Zealand players celebrate as the send out a World Cup warning in incredible win 

Aaron Smith scored one of his three tries as New Zealand annihilate Italy at the World Cup 

The 96-17 win included fourteen tries for the All Blacks as they thrashed Italy in Lyon 

Ireland will have watched the drama from their base in Tours and been left to ponder the daunting task they are likely to face in a quarter-final against Friday night’s rampant victors. 

On the evidence of this glaring mismatch, Andy Farrell’s side – ranked No 1 in the world – will have to climb a higher peak than the one they scaled to beat South Africa, if they are to reach the last eight.

New Zealand came into the game fourth in the rankings, but had fallen off just about every short list of potential champions since losing the tournament opener 27-13 against France in Paris. 

While all the awe-struck talk had been about the Irish, Springboks and French as title favourites, the All Blacks were briefly under the radar, but they’re firmly back on it now.

Foster’s tenure in charge had been drawing to a close without the usual Kiwi expectations of another global conquest. On his watch, the famed All Black aura has diminished. 

They have been all too human; all too mortal. New Zealand fans have been counting down to when Scott Robertson – who has masterminded an era of Crusaders glory and is seen as a visionary coach – takes charge.

Well, it is time to pause that count. Here was emphatic proof that it is wrong to discount any New Zealand team, even one which has endured various indignities, culminating in a record-breaking 35-7 capitulation at the hands of South Africa at Twickenham late last month.

The aura might have slipped, but the super skills haven’t. That much was evident early on Friday night, as the screw was turned on the stunned Italians. Kieran Crowley’s side fell apart, but they were trying in vain to keep a lid on multi-dimensional brilliance.

Will Jordan is all smiles are scoring two tries in New Zealand’s rampant victory over Italy 

It was a disappointing night for the Italilans who could now live with New Zealand 

The first half was soon a procession. Strike one; Jordie Barrett’s cross-kick was well taken by Will Jordan, who leapt to finish. Strike two; Smith touched down from a lineout drive. Strike three; Savea burst clear and Beauden Barrett’s wide pass released Mark Telea to score. Strike four; Savea stormed over from another close-range lineout.

On and on it went. Strike five; Codie Taylor sent Smith away for his second. Strike six; Mo’unga’s glorious, delayed pass picked out Jordie Barrett and he put Smith clear for his hat-trick. Strike seven; New Zealand’s pack battered the Italian line and Savea scored again. Mo’unga’s batch of perfect conversions made it 49-3 at half-time. Forty-nine. At half-time.

After the break, Ange Capuozzo scored in the right corner for Italy and they celebrated wildly. But after Sam Whitelock came on to become the most-capped All Black with 149 Test appearances, his erstwhile lock partner, Brodie Retallick, scored the Kiwis’ eighth try.

There was no let-up. Dalton Papali’i scored the ninth. The 10th was claimed by Dane Coles. The 11th went to Damian McKenzie, the 12th to Jordan, the 13th to Coles. It was unrelenting. Anton Lienert-Brown pounced for try No 14. Italy were broken, before Monty Ioane’s hollowest of consolations.

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