All Blacks ease into Rugby World Cup quarters
New Zealand headed into the Rugby World Cup 2023 quarter-finals with Damian McKenzie inspiring the three-time winners to a comfortable 73-0 bonus-point victory over Uruguay at the OL Stadium in France on Thursday.
For the third match in succession the All Blacks put more than 50 points on their opponents, with McKenzie – starting at full back for the first time since 2021 – at the heart of just about everything.
Will Jordan (2), Cam Roigard, Fletcher Newell, Leicester Fainga’anuku (3) and Tamaiti Williams touched down, along with Richie Mo’unga and Damian McKenzie (2).
The result put the All Blacks top of Pool ‘A’ on 15 points, two ahead of hosts France who will win the group if they beat third-placed Italy. Uruguay did make the All Blacks work for it, particularly during a frenzied opening quarter during which somewhat bizarrely three tries in 16 minutes – two for New Zealand and one for Uruguay – were chalked off on review.
But once McKenzie skipped in off the back of a scrum on the five-metre line, New Zealand proved irresistible. Richie Mo’unga was the next man in, again off the back of a close-range scrum, before McKenzie lit up the packed stadium by collecting his own chip on the touchline before keeping the ball in play with a one-handed pass to winger Will Jordan.
Scrum half Cam Roigard secured the bonus point just before half time. Maintaining the pace impressively after the break despite a flurry of substitutions, New Zealand ran in a further seven tries, with winger Leicester Fainga’anuku grabbing a second-half hat-trick.
The All Blacks head to the knock-out stages with some serious momentum. The defeat completes Uruguay’s schedule, as they finish fourth in Pool ‘A’ above Namibia. (C.D)