New Zealand earned their first victory at the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Friday night with an 11-try romp past Namibia at the Stadium de Toulouse.
Cam Roigard scored twice within seven minutes to suggest that the world's fourth-ranked team had slaughter in mind. But the Namibians settled and New Zealand conceded a penalty.
Tiaan Swanepoel converted to put his side on the board and bring the score back to 12-3.
Namibia then suffered a blow when Le Roux Malan was injured. The centre was taken off on a medical buggy with a suspected fractured ankle to applause from both sets of players as well as the 32,000 fans in the stadium.
No sooner had he been removed from the fray than New Zealand were 12 points further ahead following two tries in three minutes from Damian McKenzie and Leicester Fainga'anuku.
Anton Lienert-Brown went old school. Collecting a pass from McKenzie on the right wing, he kicked the ball under one Namibian, ran on and lobbed it over another towards the line. Touching it down seemed ghoulishly simply. And it was 29-3.
McKenzie added the two points for the conversion before going over the line himself for his second try and adding another conversion.
Coupled with the downpour, it was refreshingly retro: the All Blacks thriving, the rain driving. Ethan de Groot notched up the seventh try seconds after coming on in the second-half and it was 43-3.
New Zealand continued the exhibition against an outfit 17 places beneath them in the listings with scores from Dalton Papali'i, David Havili and Caleb Clarke.
And though the Namibians tried to attack for the try, they could not pierce through the New Zealand defence, or fumbled when well placed.
"I'm pleased with the fact that our team creates opportunities," said Namibia boss Allister Coetzee after the 71-3 annihilation.
"I'm pleased with that but we're not converting them.
"Hopefully that will come as we learn from these games with top Tier One sides."
Coetzee calls on his Namibians to enjoy New Zealand challenge at World CupUnderdogs
Coetzee remarked in the prelude to the game that Italy had only pulled away from his team from the 73rd minute of their opening match in Saint-Etienne last Saturday.
At the same point on Friday night, New Zealand were in a galaxy far, far away.
And even though they were missing one of their imperious stormtrooper's following De Groot's red card for a high tackle on Adriaan Booysen, they still managed to stop the Namibians from scoring a try and send Rieko Ioane for the final strike.
Though New Zealand coach Ian Foster lamented De Groot's expulsion as frustrating, he praised the application of players keen to make up for the opening day defeat to France.
"Job done well," insisted Foster. "We went in with a clean, clear idea about how we wanted to approach the game.
"We wanted to control the game early through our pack and I thought our forwards did a good job of that and they enabled us to play and look at the opportunities."
That focus eradicated the element of suspense sufficiently for the neutrals to bellow for the Namibians every time they neared the New Zealand posts.
Namibia vs France, New Zealand vs Italy
Coetzee and his team are unlikely to enjoy such encouragement when they play the hosts France at the Velodrome in Marseille next Thursday.
New Zealand can effectively seal their qualification for the last eight with victory against Italy on 29 September in Lyon.
And so the beasts continue their feast.
"Namibia last played against a country like the All Blacks, probably the last World Cup," said Coetzee.
"Our players don't have the privilege of playing in other top international competitions.
"Hopefully in future the players will get more of these kind of games whereby they can learn about the tempo of the game, the pace of the game and the types of collisions. They can't do it every four years. They've got to do it on a yearly basis."
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