Winning start for All Blacks in Rugby World Cup

Winning start for All Blacks

First-half blitz ends Tongan hopes

New Zealand got their World Cup challenge off to a solid start with a 41-10 victory over Tonga.

The All Blacks were simply irresistible in the first half, with some sublime handling, big hits and powerful drives breaking the hearts of the Tongans.

And although the second half was bit of an anti-climax for the home fans, it was a case of job done for coach Graham Henry.

Israel Dagg proved why he was preferred at full-back to Mils Muliaina with two tries, while Richard Kahui underlined his value as he also crossed twice.

Jerome Kaino and Ma’a Nonu also scored, while Dan Carter added nine points and Coline Slade slotted over a conversion.

The Tongans had talked about making big tackles but their defence was ripped to shreds in the opening 40 minutes while they were let down by their handling.

However they deserve credit for their second-half display as they made life uncomfortable – particularly up front – for New Zealand.

Kurt Morath scored a penalty and then converted Alisona Taumalolo’s try.

Carter got the hosts on the board with an early penalty before New Zealand got their opening try after 10 minutes.

A brilliant pass from Carter released Kahui, who carved through the defence and found Sonny Bill Williams. Although the Tonga defence managed to bring down the rugby league convert, the defence was stretched and quick hands found Dagg free on the wing to score.


Kahui was next to cross eight minutes later – again some sublime handling created the opening. This time it was a one-handed blind offload from Williams and Kahui added the finishing touch after he cut inside Vungakoto Lilo. Carter converted.

A third try almost followed on 22 minutes as the New Zealand pack should immense strength to set the platform before Carter released Williams, only for the referee to pull the hosts back for crossing.

It was only a brief respite for the South Sea islanders, though, as Dagg slid in for his second. From turnover ball, the All Blacks spun the ball wide. Isaia Toeava showed good footwork and shrugged off one would-be tackler before releasing Williams, who quickly offloaded to Dagg to apply the finish. Carter converted.

Dagg turned provider for the fourth score as he produced a one-handed offload to release Kahui, who showed his pace and power to break through two Tongans to score. Carter’s conversion made it 29-0 after 33 minutes.

The Tonga fans had to wait until the 35th minute for their first highlight when Taniela Moa broke free, unfortunately his support was penalised for diving over the top after the scrum-half had been hauled down.

That moment gave the minnows a lift and they were rewarded for some better play with a penalty from Morath on the stroke of half-time.

Tonga offered more after the break in both defence and attack as they frustrated the hosts.

Toeava looked to have finally got the scoreboard ticking over again for New Zealand only for the TMO to disallow the try for a foot in touch.

Kaino, though, eased the nerves of the crowd on the hour as he finished off when Kahui chipped over, won the chase to the ball and slipped the ball on the inside.

Tonga, though, got a try they deserved after a sustained spell of pressure on the New Zealand line. Taumalolo eventually breached the defence after a series of drives. Morath converted.

New Zealand had the final word, though, as Nonu and Slade combined for the former to score. Slade converted.