Sun, Sep 16, 2007 - Page 24 News List

All Blacks thrash spirited but outclassed Portuguese

AFP , LYON, FRANCE

New Zealand's Chris Masoe evades Portugal's defense to score a try during their Rugby World Cup Pool C match at the Gerland stadium in Lyon, France, yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Odds-on World Cup favorites New Zealand brushed aside a spirited but hopelessly outclassed Portugal 108-13 in their Pool C game yesterday, but it was not all plain sailing for the All Blacks.

The Kiwis scored 16 tries through Joe Rokocoko (2), Isaia Toeava, Ali Williams, Aaron Mauger (2), Jerry Collins, Chris Masoe, Andrew Hore, Brendan Leonard, Nick Evans, Andrew Ellis, Leon MacDonald, Conrad Smith (2) and Carl Hayman.

Evans also kicked 14 conversions for a personal points haul of 33.

But Portugal, the last of the 20 teams to qualify for the World Cup and with only three professionals in the match-day squad of 22, never gave up in the blistering heat of a 40,729-sellout Stade Gerland.

Goncalo Malheiro scored a drop-goal in the first-half, while replacement prop Rui Cordeira claimed a pushover try early in the second period that was converted by Duarte Pinto, who also claimed a late penalty.

Although New Zealand's physical superiority was evident throughout the match, the opening 25 minutes were littered with numerous individual errors, such as knock-ons and missed tackles, against the World Cup debutants.

Portugal started bravely and lasted longer than Italy before conceding a try, recalled winger Joe Rokocoko spotting a gap and searing through it to touch down in the third minute.

A series of uncharacteristic handling errors from the All Blacks was remedied after Rokocoko took a quick line-out to MacDonald, received the return pass and jinked his way through for his second try.

A rare foray into Kiwi territory after an interception saw All Black scrum-half Leonard just beat winger Antonio Aguilar from latching on to a kick through by Malheiro.

Biggest World Cup wins

1. New Zealand 145, Japan 17, Bloemfontein, South Africa, 1995

2. Australia 142, Namibia 0, Adelaide, Australia, 2003

3. England 111, Uruguay 13, Brisbane, Australia, 2003

4. New Zealand 108, Portugal 13, Lyon, France, 2007


Source: AP

But the diminutive outside-half set the Stade Gerland alight when he dropped a goal two minutes later.

The delight was short lived, however, as the All Blacks scored five converted tries in nine minutes.

Toeava, Williams, Mauger, captain Collins and Masoe were all benefactors of a dogged but desperate Portugal defense that was cruelly exposed out wide.

Hore beat off a string of tackles to crash over on the stroke of halftime, and make it 52-3 to the All Blacks who were sporting 11 changes from the team that thrashed Italy.

Portugal came out for the second period galvanized by replacement outside-half Pinto, but it was Aguilar who caused panic.

The winger broke Leonard's tackle in midfield, drew the defense and grubbered to the corner. Rokocoko knocked on and from the resulting series of rucks, Cordeiro was driven over for a try converted by Pinto.

New Zealand hit back immediately with a try by Leonard, then went 10 minutes without scoring.

The dam broke, however, with Collins instrumental in tries for Evans and Andrew Ellis, while Mauger claimed his second. MacDonald, Smith (2) and Hayman also crossed.

See:

Record defeat leaves England reeling

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