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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Matt Verri

New Zealand 73-0 Uruguay: Leicester Fainga’anuku hat-trick as All Blacks ease into Rugby World Cup last-eight

Leicester Fainga’anuku scored a hat-trick as New Zealand hammered Uruguay 73-0 to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks went into their final Pool A match knowing a bonus-point win would see them through to the last-eight, and they had the four tries required inside the first-half despite a relatively sluggish start by their lofty standards.

Uruguay kept New Zealand at bay for the opening 20 minutes, threatening to find the first try themselves, but the sensational Damian McKenzie broke the deadlock and from there it became a procession. Richie Mo’unga and Will Jordan quickly followed McKenzie in going over, before scrum-half Cam Roigard secured the bonus point before the break.

Seven more tries followed in the second-half, three of them for Leicester Fainga’anuku, as the All Blacks strolled into the knockout stages, where Ireland are the most likely opponents in a blockbuster quarter-final encounter.

Uruguay had said they would take the fight to the All Blacks and they were as good as their word, particularly in the first 20 minutes.

New Zealand had two tries scratched off in the opening quarter but there was nothing particularly one-sided about the contest as 17th-ranked Uruguay gave as good as they got.

After Uruguay winger Gaston Mieres had burned Fainga’anuku on the outside in brilliant fashion, flanker Manuel Ardao almost gave the South Americans the lead, only to be forced into touch at the last moment by Anton Leinart-Brown.

McKenzie glided over after a five-metre scrum to finally get the All Blacks on the board in the 20th minute. Flyhalf Mo’unga grabbed the second in similar fashion five minutes later and Jordan crossed after a sensational McKenzie flick infield from the touchline just after the half hour mark.

Roigard, making his second Test start, grabbed the all-important fourth try to secure the bonus point from another five-metre scrum to give the All Blacks a 26-0 half-time lead.

New Zealand played far more direct rugby after the interval and prop Fletcher Newell, an early injury replacement for Tyrel Lomax, blasted through a tackler to grab the fifth try. A looping miss-pass from Jordan sent the unmarked Fainga’anuku in for the sixth and McKenzie scored the seventh.

Uruguay, ever willing, managed to stem the flood of tries before Jordan and Fainga’anuku got their second scores and replacement prop Tamaiti Williams drove over the line for his first test try.

Fainga’anuku put further gloss on the scoreline two minutes from time, to further strengthen his case to be involved as the serious business of the knockout stages begins.

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