New Zealand kicked off the 2011 World Cup with a dominant performance against Tonga in Auckland. The All Blacks have laid down a marker now for the rest of the challengers and a terrific first half performance put them on their way to a 41-10 victory.
Sonny Bill Williams stared in a first half which was dominated by the hosts. Tonga couldn’t get close to the All Blacks as they ran in four first half tries to claim the bonus point before the break. Fullback Israel Dragg scored the opening try inside the opening ten minutes as the New Zealand number 12 broke the game line before they recycled it out wide for Dragg to touch down. A typical All Black move led to their second try as Sonny Bill Williams flicked the ball to Richard Kahui to score after Ma’a Nonu had broken free of the now lacklustre Tonga tackles.
Tonga’s defence was coming under severe pressure and it once again crumbled when Toeava beat three tackles before off loading to Dragg to score his second of the game. Tonga’s defence was simply non-existent and New Zealand were running through them at free will. Richard Kahui then scored his second when Dragg made a two on one and Kahui calmly ran it in to bag the bonus point before the break. Dan Carter was at his usual best with the boot and added the extras.
Tonga were given a boost just before the break as out half Kurt Morath put his side on the board with a penalty and this lifted the minnows. Following the interval, they looked like a different outfit and defended in a unit and kept the All Blacks out as well as having some territorial pressure themselves. New Zealand though struck a killer blow when a great piece of play from Richard Kahui led to a simple try for Jerome Kaino.That try made it 29-0 and it seemed as if the All Blacks might go on to demolish the South sea islanders but Tonga were rewarded after phase after phase of possession when replacement prop Sona Tuamalolo finally got over the line following ten minutes of constant Tonga pressure. Morath added the extras and they had pegged back some respectability following the poor 1st half performance.
The home side made sure they had the last laugh though with a late try to add gloss to what was in some ways a poor second half performance by Henry’s men.
It was a comfortable victory for New Zealand and despite their second half performance they have laid down a marker for the rest of the countries, who are yet to kick off their World Cup campaign.