New Zealand finished the World Cup pool stage in style with a spectacular demonstration of running and passing to demolish Romania 85-8 on Saturday.
The All Blacks racked up 13 tries, three coming from flying winger Joe Rokocoko, as they blew away their opponents with some dazzling rugby to the delight of the packed crowd at the Stade Toulouse.
The World Cup favourites have scored 309 points and 46 tries on their way to winning Pool C with a maximum 20 points. They will meet either France, Argentina or Ireland in a quarterfinal in Cardiff next Saturday.
Romania ended the tournament with five points thanks to a narrow 14-10 win over Portugal and a defensive bonus in their 24-18 defeat to Italy.
Just as they did against Italy in their opening match, New Zealand made a whirlwind start, scoring their first try after just 36 seconds when Sitiveni Sivivatu scorched down the left wing after flyhalf Luke McAlister had made a clean break through the middle.
It was the fastest try of the present World Cup but not quite as quick as Elton Flatley’s 18-second touchdown in Australia’s 90-8 victory over the same opponents in Brisbane in 2003.
Flanker Chris Masoe strode over for the second nine minutes later, latching on to an inside pass from Andrew Ellis after the livewire scrumhalf had cut inside two players on the edge of the 22.
The game was effectively over as a contest inside 15 minutes when Rokocoko steamed over in the corner after some quick hands after a lineout on the right.
While the crowd were entertaining themselves with the Mexican wave, fullback Nick Evans scooped up a loose ball and sped over to earn the bonus point after just 17 minutes following another sniping run from Ellis.
New Zealand notched up a fifth try and took the score to 31-0 when Sivivatu battered his way across the line for his second after a quicksilver passing move that went through half a dozen hands.
But Romania rallied and the crowd burst into life when Romania made a rare foray into the All Blacks’ 22 just before the half hour.
After some sustained pressure on the All Blacks’ line, hooker Marius Tincu barrelled his way over for his third try of the tournament after a ruck a metre out.
Normal service was resumed when Aaron Mauger nipped over in the corner after a searing break from the lively Nick Evans at fullback to help his team on the way to a 36-5 lead at halftime.
Romania made a better start to the second half, holding out seven minutes before centre Isaia Toeava scored New Zealand’s seventh try.
Rokocoko notched his second try of the game to bring up the half century after number eight Sione Lauaki made a rampaging run down the right wing and replacement hooker Andrew Hore added another after some great play by Chris Jack.
The Fijian-born winger scored his third after a great switch pass from Jerry Collins to take his overall tally to 43 tries in 47 Tests.
Conrad Smith finished off another superb running move and Doug Howlett stretched his all-time New Zealand try scoring record to 49 when he crossed after coming on as a replacement. Toeava completed the rout with his second try in the final play of the game. – Reuters