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Ten-try All Blacks crush Italy to finish season on a high

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By AFP
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World champions New Zealand bounced back from their try-less defeat to Ireland, scoring 10 against Italy in their biggest margin of victory over the Azzurri in 15 years to end their northern hemisphere tour with a 66-3 win in Rome.

The All Blacks came out firing on all cylinders after their 16-9 defeat in Dublin last weekend, with five unanswered tries in a dominant first half display on Saturday to lead 31-3 at the break, continuing the punishment with five more after the restart.

Jordie Barrett – lining up alongside brothers Scott and Beauden for New Zealand – scored four times with Damian McKenzie dotting down for three of his own as Italy fell to their 15th defeat in as many meetings against the All Blacks.

“I’m really proud of the boys after last week’s disappointment to come back like that,” said New Zealand coach Steve Hansen.

“I thought it was a pretty complete performance. No game is the same regardless of the level of the opposition.”

Hansen made 11 changes to the side that lost to the Irish but retained fly-half Beauden Barrett and fullback McKenzie.

Fullback Jordie Barrett was playing on the wing, a role which Hansen said he “looked pretty comfortable in”.

“(Jordie) has proved he has more than one position he can play in,” said Hansen.

Italy coach Conor O’Shea made just one change from the side that lost 26-7 to Australia in Padua last weekend.

But after a battling performance against the Wallabies he conceded 13th-ranked Italy were no match for the world champions.

“New Zealand are another level,” said Irishman O’Shea.

“Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say ‘they’re better than us’. Their energy and mentality is on a different level.

“There are so many things we didn’t do, certainly we had the tiredness and the pressure of an intense November.

“At this moment we’re very disappointed.”

TJ Perenara touched down the first try after nine minutes at the Stadio Olimpico finishing off a set piece move to cross for his 11th Test try.

Italy resisted the early pressure with Tommaso Allan’s penalty goal reducing the deficit after 13 minutes.

But it was to be the hosts only score of the afternoon as after quarter of an hour Patrick Tuipulotu set up McKenzie to dot down.

Beauden Barrett converted as New Zealand led 12-3 after 25 minutes before Irish referee Andrew Brace took a knock to his leg and was replaced by French linesman Pascal Gauzere.

Jordie Barrett raced away down the right flank to score in the 31st minute, as brother Beauden put through a grubber kick for the run of McKenzie who latched onto the bouncing ball to score his second try.

The punishment continued for Italy in the second half with Ngani Laumape and Beauden Barrett adding two more tires within two minutes.

Replacement Richie Mo’unga slipped a kick through and McKenzie scored his third to bring up the half-century for the All Blacks.

Jordie Barrett got his fourth just before the final whistle with a Laumape long pass finding Mo’unga who gave the wing the chance to dot down.

“It’s the old cliche, it’s certainly nice to be on the end of the chain,” said 21-year-old Jordie Barrett.

“I was just chomping at the bit to get a run so whether it was fullback or wing I was going to be excited anyway.

“So I was really pleased to get out there and get a bit of ball and have a run because I haven’t had a run in a while so I enjoyed it.

“We certainly had to earn it. Early on we were pushing a lot of passes and we had to respect Italy a lot more.

“Once we held onto the ball we got a few dividends in the end.

“On a night like this you can sway easily. It was just about playing what I saw and having fun.”

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