All Blacks open World Cup with big win

Tournament favourites New Zealand cruise to 41-10 victory over Tonga in opening game of the Rugby World Cup in Auckland.

     Richard Kahui of the All Blacks goes over to score his second try during the Rugby World Cup opener [GALLO/GETTY]

    New Zealand took care of business with a dominant 41-10 win over Tonga to open the Rugby World Cup on Friday.

    The All Blacks begin yet another quest to end the long drought since their first and only title at rugby's showpiece event.

    The curtain rose with a visually stunning opening ceremony watched by an estimated worldwide audience of one billion people.

    A glittering sea of mobile phones and cameras greeted television viewers around the world as the almost 60,000-strong Eden Park crowd lit up the countdown to the start of the festivities.

    After the rousing opening ceremony and passionate pre-match challenges, the All Blacks drained all the tension and anticipation by scoring four tries in the first 33 minutes, and finding the Tongans wanting out wide.

    "I thought we brought physicality, our defence was reasonably good. It was a bit disappointing to let them score but we had to defend for a while"

    Kiwi Captain Richie McCaw

    But after taking a 29-3 lead into halftime, New Zealand failed to capitalise on long periods in Tonga's half by giving away penalties against the prideful Pacific neighbours and dropping crucial passes.

    While there was not a signature moment to kickstart the tournament like John Kirwan's 80-meter try against the Italians the last time New Zealand opened the cup on home soil in 1987, a host nation starved of a cup triumph could feel satisfied to move one win closer to a second title.

    "It was a start, I think that's all we can look at it as," All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said.

    "There were definitely some good patches. Perhaps in the second half, we spent a bit of time in their 22 and we didn't actually capitalise.

    "I thought we brought physicality, our defence was reasonably good. It was a bit disappointing to let them score but we had to defend for a while."

    McCaw said after the frantic start, the All Blacks let themselves down.

    "It's easy to get a bit loose," he said.

    "Perhaps we just expected it to happen, especially as we made breaks and weren't ruthless. That's a bit disappointing.

    "We're just excited about getting under way tonight, it's a long time coming."

    Positives for Tonga

    Tonga's renowned physical threat was negated by a more aggressive New Zealand defence which did not concede a try until near the end, and only after a long, sustained assault.

    Fullback Israel Dagg and winger Richard Kahui both scored a pair of tries in a dazzling 22-minute period of the first half, but only Jerome Kaino and Ma'a Nonu crossed in the second.

    Tonga replacement prop Alisona Taumalolo burrowed under the All Blacks forwards in between New Zealand's second-half tries.

    "I think the ABs started very well. Every time we made mistakes they scored points,'' Tonga skipper Finau Maka said.

    "The boys came out in the second half firing, and I thought we defended well. We showed we can defend well and score a try against the best team.

    "With the World Cup, I think momentum is important and we take a lot of positives from this game and look forward to the next game against Canada on Wednesday."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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