New Zealand winger Zac Guildford scored four tries as the All Blacks temporarily lifted the dark pall over their Rugby World Cup campaign with a 79-15 victory over Canada in their final Pool A clash on Sunday.
With the All Blacks coming to terms with news that flyhalf Daniel Carter had been ruled out of the tournament after tearing a tendon in his groin in training, the industrious Guildford popped up all over the field and had a hand in three other tries against the Canadians.
Carter’s exit from the tournament was described earlier by coach Graham Henry as a “major” blow to the All Blacks, though the team also suffered a series of other injuries in the match.
Carter’s backup Colin Slade limped off in the second half, while loosehead prop Tony Woodcock was forced off following a head clash with Canada’s Adam Kleeberger.
“You can’t lie about it, he’s going to be hard to replace because he’s a special player,” captain Andrew Hore said of Carter in a pitchside interview.
“We just have to get around there and make it easy for the guy wearing number 10. We played pretty well and if we keep building like that we will go a long way to winning this thing.”
Guildford, making his first start of the tournament, ran in a hat-trick of tries in the first half as the All Blacks backline cut the Canadians to shreds with their pace, width and ability to push their hands free of the tackle.
Guildford also helped set up tries for Israel Dagg and veteran fullback Mils Muliaina, while Victor Vito smashed over after the All Blacks had demolished the Canadian scrum inside their own 22-metre area.
Slade had difficulty kicking in the swirling northerly breeze, adding just two conversions and a penalty in the first half.
Canada had defended for most of the first half but managed to score just before the break when winger Conor Trainor crossed in the corner following a sustained build-up.
Trainor added his second try immediately after halftime when he fell on the loose ball from a kick ahead and slid over. Ander Monro converted to make it 37-15.
The All Blacks lost some structure in the second half but still managed to post their highest score against Canada as Jimmy Cowan, Jerome Kaino (two), Sonny Bill Williams, Guildford and Vito all crossed.
Piri Weepu slotted four conversions as the All Blacks surpassed their previous highest score against Canada of 73-7, which they posted in 1995.
“It’s a bit disappointing the way we finished here today but I’m really pleased with the guys the way they played as a team and as individuals,” Canada captain Pat Riordan said.
“It was awesome but we’d talked about making the most of the opportunity and Conor’s tries were great for him.” – Reuters
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