In an awe-inspiring display of rugby prowess, New Zealand showcased their dominance with a staggering 96-17 victory over Italy in Pool A, bringing them closer to securing a spot in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
Facing the possibility of elimination, the All Blacks left no room for doubt as they sprinted to an electrifying 49-3 lead by halftime. Their quest for victory was driven by scrum-half Aaron Smith, who achieved a remarkable hat-trick in just 33 minutes.
To secure a place in the knockout stage, New Zealand must secure a win against Uruguay in their upcoming pool match. Conversely, Italy’s path to their first-ever World Cup quarter-final hinges on defeating the host nation, France.
This resounding victory elevated New Zealand to second place in Pool A, sharing points with Italy but now holding a superior head-to-head record.
The All Blacks showcased their supremacy after an early hiccup, rebounding from their initial loss to France in the tournament. Their recent performances include a 71-3 triumph over Namibia, culminating in the astounding 96-point achievement against tier one nation Italy.
The 96-17 victory matched France’s point total against Namibia last week, reaffirming New Zealand’s status as a leading contender in the tournament. Notably, it marked their most substantial World Cup victory since their 108-13 triumph over Portugal in 2007.
New Zealand’s spectacular start featured Will Jordan’s dazzling try in the corner, capitalizing on Beauden Barrett’s precise crossfield kick. Although Italy briefly responded with a penalty, the All Blacks surged ahead with tries from Smith, Mark Telea, and Ardie Savea, securing a bonus point and a commanding 28-3 lead within the first 21 minutes.
The relentless scoring made the outcome all but inevitable. Smith continued his scoring spree, completing his hat-trick, while Savea also notched a second try, contributing to a comprehensive first-half advantage.
In the second half, Brodie Retallick, Dalton Papali’i, Dane Coles, and Damian McKenzie extended the All Blacks’ lead to 75-10 by the 66th minute. Jordan and Coles added their second tries, with Anton Lienert-Brown capping off New Zealand’s scoring onslaught five minutes before the final whistle.
The result inflicted a humiliating defeat on Italy, reestablishing New Zealand’s reputation as a tournament favorite.
Italy, previously on a four-match winning streak and already triumphant over Namibia and Uruguay in the current tournament, had hoped for a historic victory over the All Blacks to secure their maiden World Cup knockout berth. Instead, they endured their most significant World Cup defeat, surpassing their 76-14 loss to New Zealand in 2007.
Despite the disastrous first half, Italy managed to score the first try of the second half when Ange Capuozzo crossed the line. As New Zealand approached a century in points, Monty Ioane added another try, providing a faint glimmer of consolation in an otherwise distressing performance.
Italy’s final Pool A match will see them face France, while New Zealand’s next challenge comes against Uruguay, both contests poised to determine the teams advancing to the quarter-finals.