New Zealand 70-7 Italy
New Zealand 70
Tries: Thorn, Thorne, Howlett (2), Spencer (2), Rokocoko (2), Marshall, Carter, MacDonald
Cons: Carter (6)
New Zealand opened their World Cup campaign with a comprehensive win over Italy in Melbourne.
The All Blacks ran in 11 tries, with Doug Howlett, Carlos Spencer and Joe Rokocoko touching down twice each.
Italy rarely threatened despite taking the game to their opponents, claiming a sole consolation score in the second half when Kiwi-born Matt Phillips touched down.
However, New Zealand's win could prove a pyrrhic victory with vice-captian Tana Umaga suffering a serious injury to his knee ligaments.
The ever-impressive Joe Rokocoko also limped out of the action with a minor tear to his hamstring.
The other major area of concern for All Black coach John Mitchell will have been Spencer's kicking.
The stand-off, after landing an opening-minute penalty, missed three conversion attempts and was replaced by Daniel Carter.
Carter fared better with the boot and took over the mantle from Umaga of marshalling the midfield with aplomb.
In tandem with Spencer he orchestrated a backline that was continually looking to run the ball.
Despite the threat of the backs it was the forwards who were first to touch down through Brad Thorn and Reuben Thorne.
But from there on in it was an exhibition of running rugby in the backs with Carter instrumental in the best score.
Collecting a pass from Rokocoko, in his own 22, the centre set off on a mesmeric gliding run in and out of five blue shirts before releasing Howlett for a simple run-in.
Howlett and Spencer both scored tries in each half, with Rokocoko, Justin Marshall and Carter himself crossing in the second 40.
In addition to the well-documented cutting edge in attack, the All Blacks stood strong in defence when called to, Phillips' try apart.
And if 11 tries are not enough to convince people of New Zealand's World Cup threat, the omens also look good.
The only time the William Webb Ellis trophy has returned to the land of the long white cloud was in 1987 when they opened their campaign with 70 points against Italy.
On that occasion New Zealand scored 12 tries, and for Howlett read John Kirwan, who scored a memorable touchdown.
On this evidence Kirwan, the Italian coach, will not be tasting similar success in 2003, although his country of birth are up and running in style.
New Zealand: M Muliaina; D Howlett, T Umaga, D Carter, J Rokocoko; C Spencer, J Marshall; D Hewett, K Mealamu, G Somerville; B Thorn, C Jack; R Thorne (capt), R McCaw, J Collins
Replacements: M Hammett, K Meeuws, R So'oialo, M Holah, S Devine, M Nonu, L MacDonald
Italy: G Peens, M Bergamasco, A Masi, M Barbini, N Mazzucato, F Mazzariol, M Mazzantini, S Perugini, C Festuccia, R Martinez, S Palmer, C Checchinato (capt), C Bezzi, M Bergamasco, M Phillips.
Replacements: F Ongaro, M Castrogiovanni, S Parisse, A Benatti, A Troncon, R Wakarua, G Canale.