Two-time defending champions New Zealand ran nine tries past Canada in a 63-0 romp to strengthen their grip on Pool B at the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday.
All three Barrett brothers – Jordie, Beauden and Scott – scored tries as the All Blacks totted up four before half-time and added another five in the second period.
Brad Weber, back in the All Blacks after being sidelined for four years, was the inspiration the defending champions needed to set their second half alight.
The quick-thinking Weber, coming on as a replacement at the start of the second half, scored two tries himself and was instrumental in the other three.
“I thought particularly that first half of the second half, they really came together and played good controlled rugby,” said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
“In really difficult conditions – the humidity is unbelievable, and whilst people at home will be wondering why we dropped a few balls, it’s very, very difficult. So I think they’ve done well.”
In a messy first half, where the clammy conditions inside the roofed Oita Stadium contributed to multiple handling errors, the All Blacks only led 28-0 at half-time.
But with Weber dictating the flow they doubled that score in a frenetic opening 10 minutes of the second half with four rapid tries.
They only scored one more as the energy-sapping conditions took their toll, but it was enough to post the highest score in this World Cup so far.
However, the All Blacks finished short of the 79-15 scoreline when they last played Canada at the 2011 World Cup.
France survive scare to beat USA
France ran in three late tries against the United States on Wednesday to earn a vital bonus point in the Rugby World Cup ‘group of death’ with an erratic 33-9 win.
Les Bleus were just 12-9 ahead with 13 minutes to go before Gael Fickou, Baptiste Serin and Jefferson Poirot dotted down to secure victory against the underdogs.
It was the type of inconsistent performance followers of French rugby have seen all too frequently – breathtaking flair let down by a raft of handling errors.
But the bonus point keeps the pressure up on old enemy England, who play Argentina on Saturday in another Pool C clash of the heavyweights.
“It was a very difficult match but the important thing is that we won with a bonus point,” said fly-half Camille Lopez, who picked up the man-of-the-match award.
USA captain Blaine Scully was delighted his team had been able to push France, three-time World Cup finalists, until the closing stages.
“It’s where we want to be. We want to be testing ourselves in the best competitions against the best teams in the world,” Scully said.
“We’re not expecting any quarter and we don’t expect them to give it to us.”
France looked sharp at the outset, an incisive break by Lopez slicing open the United States midfield after just two minutes.
And Les Bleus were on the scoreboard four minutes later, a counter-attacking move ending in a sublime Lopez chip for winger Yoann Huget to dot down for a scintillating try.
USA coach Gary Gold had called on his team to improve “every aspect” of their game after they went down to England 45-7 and the Eagles held their own for the first quarter, as AJ MacGinty scored a penalty after some pressure on the French line.
But France extended their advantage after 24 minutes when Lopez’s perfectly judged cross-field kick found Alivereti Raka in space on the right-hand touchline for a simple try.
The USA kept in the contest and MacGinty slotted another penalty on the half-hour mark, again the consequence of some sustained forward pressure as France lost their flow.
Huget’s try aside, it was a patchy first-half performance from Les Bleus, a pre-match downpour and humid conditions making handling difficult.