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All Backs eventually run Canada ragged
16 June 2007, 10:56 am
New Zealand's build-up to their Tri-Nations rugby title defence ended in anti-climatic fashion though Canada provided stout resistance before being swamped by a second-half onslaught at Waikato Stadium tonight.
First five-eighth Daniel Carter was the individual star, mirroring the All Blacks second-half recovery by scoring a hat-trick of tries as the home side shed early moments of indecision to eventually lay on 10 tries.
Carter, who had a patchy opening spell, converted seven for a personal haul of 29 points.
Written off as cannon fodder during a low-key build-up to the one-off test, the nuggety, niggly underdogs produced a performance that stunned all but the small but vocal pockets of Canadian supporters in the 25,000 crowd.
Eventually the All Blacks superior fitness enabled them to cruise to a perfunctory triumph after a drastically improved display following a short, sharp tune-up from coach Graham Henry at halftime.
The All Blacks, given a 79-point head start by betting agencies, appeared to be playing to form when Sitiveni Sivivatu broke through some ragged defence close to a ruck in the third minute to score one of the easiest of his 17 test tries.
Sivivatu then turned provider for the second try with a precise cut-out pass floated over Mils Muliaina and Aaron Mauger to enable Luke McAlister to cross with ease. The All Blacks were up 12-0, scoring a point-a-minute and vindicating forecasts of a rout.
However, the Canadians stood firm, tackled valiantly and pounced when an intricate All Blacks backline move went awry to gift Mike Pyke a 90-metre intercept try.
Carter's intended pass to Muliaina was smartly anticipated by the tall fullback who held off Sivivatu down the right hand touch line before rounding the posts.
James Pritchard, who opened Canada's account with a 14th minute penalty, added the extras to allow Canada to narrow the margin to 12-10 in the 22nd minute, hushing the capacity crowd.
Prop John Schwalger extended the All Blacks buffer with a try on debut when he flopped over three minutes later but committed Canadian defence and some muddled attacking options frustrated the home side until hooker Andrew Hore went over in the same corner after the halftime hooter to give the All Blacks a 26-13 lead.
Any fears of a massive boilover were allayed when Carter ghosted over for the first of his treble a minute after the resumption.
Flanker Chris Masoe and Carter (twice) touched down to belatedly post the half century in the 63rd minute. Winger Doug Howlett and replacement wing Rico Gear continued to punish the Canadians with a try each as the tourists wilted on the home stretch.
Although it was far from a perfect dress rehearsal for the Springboks in Durban next week, the All Blacks can at least board the flight for South Africa tomorrow relatively injury free.
Lock Troy Flavell dislocated a finger in the eighth minute though he was able to play on before making way for Richie McCaw in the 46th minute.
Score from the one-off rugby test between New Zealand and Canada at Waikato Stadium here tonight.
New Zealand 64 (Dan Carter 3, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Luke McAlister, John Schwalger, Andrew Hore, Chris Masoe, Doug Howlett, Rico Gear tries; Dan Carter
15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Luke McAlister, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Byron Kelleher, 8 Jerry Collins, 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Reuben Thorne (c), 5 Ross Filipo, 4 Troy Flavell, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Carl Hayman, 18 Rodney So'oialo, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Rico Gear, 22 Leon MacDonald.
15 Mike Pyke, 14 Justin Mensah-Coker, 13 Craig Culpan, 12 David Spicer, 11 James Pritchard, 10 Ryan Smith, 9 Morgan Williams (c), 8 Sean-Michael Stephen, 7 Stan Mckeen, 6 Colin Yukes, 5 Mike Burak, 4 Luke Tait, 3 Scott Franklin, 2 Pat Riordan, 1 Kevin Tkachuk.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Carpenter, 17 Dan Pletch, 18 Mike Pletch, 19 Josh Jackson, 20 Adam Kleeberger, 21 Dean van Camp, 22 Ed Fairhurst.
Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)