All Blacks run riot with 11-try victory over Namibia
New Zealand score 11 tries against Africans; France join England in q-finals
Defending champions New Zealand racked up the biggest points tally of this year's Rugby World Cup by running in 11 tries to hammer a spirited Namibia side 71-9 and charge back to the top of Pool B yesterday, while France secured their quarter-final spot with a 23-21 win over Tonga.
The All Blacks' bonus point was secured before half-time and, although there might be concern at yellow cards shown to Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tuungafasi for high tackles, New Zealand look in ominous form heading into their last pool match against Italy on Saturday.
Outstanding centre Anton Lienert-Brown, flying winger Sevu Reece and fullback Ben Smith all scored two tries and Jordie Barrett, making a first Test start at flyhalf, also crossed and kicked eight conversions.
GULF IN CLASS
Namibia, who have never won a World Cup match in 22 attempts, opened the scoring and drew within one point at 10-9 after half an hour, but bridging the huge gulf in class was beyond them and their physical challenge waned as they tired.
"First half was pretty disappointing, we didn't turn up with the right attitude and the Namibians made us pay for it," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.
"They had more intent in the first half and played better than us in the first half. That's a good lesson isn't it? Second half, there were plenty of good stuff in it."
In Pool C, France withstood a furious Tonga fightback to grind into the quarter-finals, with a nerve-jangling 23-21 win that only just banished the ghosts of their shock loss to the Pacific Islanders at the 2011 tournament.
The thrilling victory at balmy Kumamoto Stadium saw France join England in the knockout stages, while sending Tonga crashing out of the tournament with three successive defeats, with Pool C rivals Argentina and the United States also sent packing.
In a dramatic finale, flanker Zane Kapeli collected a cross-kick for a last-gasp try, Latiume Fosita's conversion then bringing the Tongans to within two points with under a minute left.
But France winger Damian Penaud, caught out of position for Tonga's last try, soared high to tap back the re-start, allowing France to hold on to victory. - REUTERS