NZL 96-17 ITA: All Blacks Deliver a Spectacular 14-Try Performance

NZL 96-17 ITA: All Blacks Deliver a Spectacular 14-Try Performance

New Zealand showcased their rugby prowess by dominating every aspect of the game, securing a resounding 96-17 victory over Italy at OL Stadium on a Friday evening, and taking a significant stride toward the quarter-finals.

In a performance that sent a clear message to the entire tournament, the All Blacks effectively sealed the game’s fate before halftime. A blistering 17-minute burst in the first half witnessed the three-time Rugby World Cup champions amassing an astounding 35 unanswered points, highlighted by scrum-half Aaron Smith’s remarkable hat-trick.

With a 49-3 lead at halftime, the Azzurri had a brief moment of relief at the beginning of the second half when Ange Capuozzo soared to score a try in the corner, igniting the crowd’s spirits. However, this try merely reopened the floodgates, as New Zealand responded with an additional seven tries, providing the perfect gift to Sam Whitelock, who surpassed Richie McCaw to become the most-capped All Black of all time.

With New Zealand’s forward pack in dominating form and their backs displaying their trademark fluidity, a stunned Italy found themselves without an adequate response.

New Zealand’s captain, Ardie Savea, who also earned the Mastercard Player of the Match title, commented, “We put a lot of work in last week and this week. Not only myself but all the boys who played tonight gave their all. We have talent throughout the squad. We hadn’t quite clicked, but tonight we played some free-flowing rugby, and that’s how I want my team to play. I’m really proud tonight. We put a lot into this week and reaped the rewards.”

Savea continued, “We wanted to come out and make a statement. We aimed to dominate up front. Our forwards laid the foundation, and the backs finished it off. It was really good, but we let it slip in the end, so we are never satisfied, never comfortable. There are areas to improve. It was a final for us, a do-or-die game. We have to play like this every weekend.”

Ian Foster, the head coach of New Zealand, paid tribute to second-row Sam Whitelock, who marked his record 149th appearance for the All Blacks. Foster remarked, “Individually, it’s a tremendous achievement. To stand alone at the top for appearances with this team is truly special. He deserves it. He’s been a warrior for a long time and continues to excel in his role. I’m exceptionally proud, and it’s a great occasion for him to mark it.”

Italy’s captain, Michele Lamaro, found it challenging to come to terms with the magnitude of the defeat, saying, “Obviously, it’s tough even to find words. We’ve learned a very significant lesson. We must stay united. We have another chance, and we need to prepare well. Sometimes it’s just not your day, but we have to stick together.”

Italy’s head coach, Kieran Crowley, acknowledged the one-sided nature of the match, stating, “They simply overwhelmed us. It was like a training exercise for them. I believe we won 33 percent in the scrum and 50 percent in the lineout. They played exceptionally well, but we handed them a few tries in various areas. We need to put this behind us and focus on the next week.”

Mark Z

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