New Zealand too strong for Romania
TOULOUSE, 29 September – Joe Rokocoko scored three of New Zealand's 13 tries as the IRB Rugby World Cup favourites finished their Pool C campaign with a 85-8 defeat of Romania at Le Stade on Saturday.
The All Blacks have already secured top spot and will meet the Pool D runners-up - be that Argentina, France or Ireland - in the second quarter-final at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff next Saturday.
Even so their intentions were evident from the start, wing Rokocoko electing to run the kick off back and, after a break by Luke McAlister, the ball was worked out to Sitiveni Sivivatu to score the quickest try of RWC 2007 after only 37 seconds.
Scrum half Andrew Ellis had a hand in three of New Zealand's four other tries in the opening 25 minutes, making the breaks that led to scores for flanker Chris Masoe (10th minute), full back Nick Evans (18th minute) and Sivivatu's second (24th minute).
Rokocoko and centre Aaron Mauger also scored for New Zealand, but the biggest cheer of the half was reserved for Romania hooker Marius Tincu as he capped a period of pressure in the All Black 22 with a try to make it 36-5 at the break.
The All Blacks were not as fast-starting in the second half; seven minutes passing before Ellis picked up at the back of a ruck and fed a miss pass to centre Isaia Toeava, who slipped a tackle to touch down the seventh try and make it 43-5.
McAlister converted – his fourth successful kick from seven attempts – before being replaced by Doug Howlett with Evans moving to fly half and taking over the kicking duties for the All Blacks. The impressive Ellis then departed shortly afterwards with Brendon Leonard taking his place.
New Zealand's eighth try brought up the half century in the 58th minute, number 8 Sione Lauaki setting off on a rampaging run, shrugging off tackles, before feeding Rokocoko on his outside for the wing to race through for his second of the match.
Andrew Hore came up short with his stretch for the line six minutes later, but quickly made amends as the All Blacks ran in two tries in as many minutes, the replacement hooker scoring the first before Rokocoko completed his hat-trick.
Romania replacement Florin Vlaicu kicked a penalty in the 72nd minute, but New Zealand had the final say with tries from replacements Conrad Smith and Doug Howlett as the All Blacks posted more points in the pool stages than in any previous world cup.
Toeava crossed on the final whistle for his second try to complete the scoring.