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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 September 2007, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
New Zealand 76-14 Italy
By James Standley

Sitiveni Sivivatu scores the second of his two tries against Italy
Winger Sitiveni Sivivatu grabbed a first-half brace for the All Blacks
New Zealand (43) 76
Tries: McCaw 2, Howlett 3, Muliaina, Sivivatu 2, Jack, Collins 2
Cons: Carter 7, McAlister 2
Pens: Carter

Italy (7) 14
Tries: Stanoevic, Mirco Bergamasco
Cons: Bortolussi, de Marigny

Favourites New Zealand laid down a World Cup marker by destroying Italy in their opening game in Marseille.

Richie McCaw (2), Doug Howlett, Mils Muliaina and Sitiveni Sivivatu (2) scored before Marko Stanojevic crossed for Italy to make it 43-7 at the break.

The All Blacks added further tries through Chris Jack, Howlett (2) and Jerry Collins (2), before Mirco Bergamasco grabbed a consolation try.

Star All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter landed 17 points with the boot.

Italy have a reputation as a physical, abrasive unit but they were taken apart by the All Blacks in a devastating opening quarter.

New Zealand have a history of peaking between World Cups but since losing in the semi-finals of the 2003 tournament they have won 38 of their 43 Tests.


They thrilled the passionate 60,000 crowd at Olympique Marseille's Velodrome stadium by performing their traditional pre-match Ka Mate haka, rather than the Kapa O Panga haka they have used frequently over the past couple of years.

The Italians chose to spurn the challenge by going into a group huddle and they seemed to turn their backs once again just 60 seconds into the game.

All Blacks second row Ali Williams peeled round the back of a line-out and New Zealand captain McCaw romped over untouched from the 22.

McCaw, the IRB player of the year in 2006, added his second try just six minutes later before two Carter conversions and a penalty put the tournament favourites 17-0 up after just 11 minutes.

Italy looked shell-shocked and a panicky kick soon landed in the hands of the lethal Sivivatu, who sparked a sweeping passing move ended by Howlett in the far corner.

The battered Azzurri tried to respond by imposing themselves physically, but twice Carter saw their blitz defence coming, twice he chipped over the thin blue line and twice the All Blacks scored.

Muliania and Sivivatu were the lucky recipients and, with Carter maintaining his 100% success rate with the boot, the tournament favourites had 38 points on the board after just 18 minutes.

All Blacks blind-side Jerry Collins takes on Italy open-side Mauro Bergamasco
All Blacks blind-side Jerry Collins grabbed two second-half tries

With their worst nightmare unfolding before them, Italy finally woke up and they restricted the hosts to just one more try before the interval, Sivivatu finishing off a lightning attack started by Leon MacDonald taking a quick tap in his own 22.

Carter missed the conversion but, with the game already won well before half-time, the All Blacks started to play fantasy rugby.

They duly paid the price as one ambitious break-out ended with Stanojevic intercepting and racing clear to score, with David Bortolussi adding the conversion to make it 43-7 at the break.

Italy's task was made somewhat easier when giant New Zealand tight-head Carl Hayman was sent to the sin bin for a punch a minute into the second half.

It took 10 minutes before towering second row Jack, who will join Saracens after the World Cup, strode over for his side's seventh try and they continued to arrive at regular intervals.

The Munster-bound Howlett grabbed a brace to move level on 46 tries with legendary full-back Christian Cullen as the All Blacks' all-time leading try scorer, while Collins also picked up a double.

Carter and Luke McAlister, who is heading to Sale Sharks, added four conversions between them before the younger of the two Bergamasco brothers went over for Italy, with Roland de Marigny converting.

Marseille may be famed for the Mistral, the strong wind which frequently sweeps over the southern port city, but on Saturday it was the All Blacks who simply blew the opposition away.

New Zealand: MacDonald; Howlett, Muliaina, McAlister, Sivivatu; Carter, Kelleher; Woodcock, Mealamu, Hayman, Jack, Williams, Collins, McCaw, So'oialo.
Replacements: Oliver, Tialata, Masoe, Lauaki, Leonard, Mauger, Toeava.

Italy: Bortolussi; Robertson, Masi, Mirco Bergamasco, Stanojevic; De Marigny, Troncon; Perugini, Ongaro, Castrogiovanni, Dellape, Bortolami (capt), Zanni, Mauro Bergamasco, Parisse.
Replacements: Festuccia, Lo Cicero, Bernabo, Vosawai, Griffen, Canale, Galon.

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