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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 18:18 GMT 19:18 UK
Form guide: New Zealand
Joe Rokocoko has scored two hat-tricks for the All Blacks this season
Rokocoko has been in electric form for the All Blacks
New Zealand have been scoring plenty of points as the World Cup looms.

Twice - against South Africa and Australia - the All Blacks have clocked up more than 50 points and in seven matches they have run in 29 tries.

Only once have they come unstuck this year, losing in a thrilling season opener to England in June.

Since then they have beaten all-comers and became the first team since South Africa five years ago to win the Tri-Nations with a 100% record.

In addition to their superb record as a team, coach John Mitchell has unearthed some special individual talents that will stand the All Blacks in good stead for the World Cup and beyond.

New Zealand have scored a try in every match this year with only England and South Africa managing to hold them to a single touchdown in a match.

Doug Howlett scored the five-pointer against England when Carlos Spencer's haggard kicking efforts, particularly in comparison to his opposite number Jonny Wilkinson, effectively decided the game.

FORM IN 2003
New Zealand could blame early season rust on the display, particularly in the wake of their subsequent results.

A week later they made a mockery of Wales, running in eight tries in a 55-3 win when two of Mitchell's younger players first caught the eye.

Debutant centre Daniel Carter scored 20 points in total while wing Joe Rokocoko crossed for his first international try.

Another 10 have since followed from the Fijian-born speedster, including a hat-trick in the next outing against France.

Billed as the 'New Jonah Lomu', both at home and abroad, Rokocoko notched up his scores in 13 first-half minutes which decided the contest despite France's best efforts.

That trio of games set up New Zealand perfectly for the Tri-Nations, which they effectively wrapped up in the space of a week.

First they trounced South Africa 52-16 before humbling Australia 50-21 seven days later. Both results were record wins in meetings between the countries.

The Springboks were out-gunned seven tries to one with Spencer at his creative best.

In almost every phase of play the Kiwis were superior and their backs were given space to show the silkiest handling skills in world rugby, Howlett and Rokocoko leading the way with two tries each.

MAORI RUGBY TERMINOLOGY
Try: Piro
Penalty: Whiu
Tackle: Taia, Hopukina
Come on ref: Tika kaiwawao
Cauliflower ears: Puputi taringa
Spencer was equally sharp a week later when New Zealand travelled to Sydney and Rokocoko was even more deadly, the winger running in a second international hat-trick.

The All Blacks wrapped up their fifth Tri-Nations crown in eight years a fortnight later with a tight 19-11 victory over a much-improved South Africa.

Rokocoko scored once again, the only try of the match, before Howlett got back in on the act when the Tri-Nations concluded with the Bledisloe Cup match against Australia in Auckland.

In wet and windy conditions, Howlett, on his home ground, ran in a brace of tries to take his season's tally to seven.

Spencer orchestrated proceedings and kicked 11 points to help his side close out a near-perfect international season ahead of the World Cup.





Links to more New Zealand stories


 

PRE-WORLD CUP FORM
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