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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019


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Latest score: New  Zealand 79-15 Canada

“It’s a tragic situation for a highly-talented young sportsman… I think whatever we put in the media today, we need to show some sensitivity.”

–Graham Henry speaking earlier today about the loss of Dan Carter.

It’s anthem time…

New Zealand– Muliaina, Dagg, Smith, Williams, Guildford, Williams, Slade, Cowan; Woodcock, Hore, Franks, Whitelock, Williams, Kaino, Vito, Read.

Canada– Evans, Trainor, Van Der Merwe, Smith, Mackenzie, Monro, Fairhurst; Buydens, Riordan, Marshall, Sinclair, Cudmore, Kleeberger, O’Toole, Carpenter.

I’m just throwing it out there: Sonny Bill Williams– great rugby player, crappish boxer?

New Zealand claim possession from Monro’s start and immediately take the ball into contact and through a number of phases. They lose their attacking impetus when Slade– the man who would fill Dan Carter’s enormous shoes– delivers a poor pass inside, then, seconds later, has his first kick of the game charged down by Van Der Merwe, who’s looked lively all tournament.

Canada are awarded their first penalty of the game when the All Blacks are penalised for not rolling away. Monro splits the posts from about thirty metres out.

New Zealand 0-3 Canada

Canada have started very positively, pressuring New Zealand at every point across the park… but that doesn’t stop Sonny Bill, who dodges a tackle in midfield and puts the All Blacks on the front foot. Two passes later, the ball’s in the hands of Slade, the fly-half breaking clear towards the Canadian posts. Seeing his path blocked, he tosses a high, wide pass into the hands of Guildford, who slides over in the left corner.

Slade makes the conversion from the left touchline.

New Zealand 7-3 Canada

Slade has already more than atoned for his ignominious start. He still looks put upon, though…

Another line-break from Sonny Bill sees the big centre charge over Canadian wing Conor Trainor before offloading to Conrad Smith, who in turn finds Vito.

Canada are granted a defensive scrum, but they’re annihilated by a strong New Zealand shove. Read claims the ball and pops a quick pass to Vito, who bundles over for New Zealand’s second try.

Slade drags his conversion attempt wide of the posts.

New Zealand 12-3 Canada

Ander Monro pinches a Colin Slade pass out of the air and streams away downfield with support in tow. He was miles offside, but Romain Poite’s asthmatic whistling can’t make itself heard over the din and it’s a good thirty seconds before the ball’s brought back for a New Zealand penalty.

Slade puts another three points on the board.

New Zealand 15-3 Canada

Another pass from Slade goes astray. The fly-half’s error count is ticking steadily upwards… he’s under an incredible amount of pressure. In the absence of Carter, every one of his performances will be judged against an inhuman perfection. He can’t win, as such, but he can have the last laugh.

Another try for New Zealand! Israel Dagg goes over in the right corner after Guildford, drifting in from left, reaches around his tackler for the offload.

Slade’s conversion drifts right of the posts.

New Zealand 20-3 Canada

Dagg, claiming a chip over the top, is penalised for the slightest of knock-ons.

Pedantic, Poite?

Sickener for Canada! Cowen skims a kick through the Canadian defence and races Conor Trainor to the try-line. The Canuck misjudges his slide, however, and instead of claiming the ball, kicks it out of reach. A grateful Zac Guildford claims the points.

Another Slade effort goes astray.

New Zealand 25-3 Canada

New Zealand are over again! The quick-thinking of Jimmy Cowen sets Zac Guildford on his way. The winger’s pass back inside finds the arms of Muliaina, who charges over unopposed.

Slade guarantees a maximum, seven-point return.

New Zealand 32-3 Canada

Some lovely, orthodox work from Canada in attack, sees the Canucks safely through a handful of phases and within metres of the All Black try-line. They’re demolished at the scrum again, though, and Cowen clears downfield.

Guildford has his hat-trick! A sidestep from Sonny Bill Williams in midfield gives the centre the yard he requires to break clear of the Canadian line. Just as he’s about to be brought to ground, he scuffs a grubber kick outside. It bobbles end over end before defying numerous scientific principles and popping up into the arms of Muliaina. The full-back offloads to Guildford, who arcs his run into the left corner.

Slade’s conversion attempt drifts wide of the right post.

New Zealand 37-3 Canada

The comeback’s on! Canada lay siege to the All Black line. Brought to a chaotic halt inches short of an opening try, they’re awarded a scrum. Amazingly, they retain possession, before casting the ball wide and left, where Conor Trainor’s waiting to drive over.

Monro pulls his effort wide of the posts.

New Zealand 32-8 Canada

Half-time: The partnership of Jimmy Cowen and Colin Slade has provided a solid fulcrum about which the All Black’s can build their attack. Guildford, who’s had his fair share of personal problems of late, has made a triumphant return to the fold.

Canada, for all their stand-outs– and VDM, Carpenter, Kleeberger and Trainor have been genuinely eye-catching– lack the sort of set-piece competitiveness necessary to trouble a top-tier side. They’re being annihilated at the scrum.

We’re back! Canada claim Slade’s restart…

Do Canada have a second try?! An appalling pass from Cowen– who I think I may have jinxed– allows Canada to hack the ball downfield and send the All Blacks scrambling backwards en masse. Conor Trainor materialises near the try-line, grasps the ball to his chest and slides over in slow-motion.

The TMO confirms the score. Monro converts.

New Zealand 37-15 Canada

New Zealand have another try! Cowen, under pressure and waving the ball about at arm’s length, crosses over for the All Black’s first try of the second half.

Slade makes no mistake from just in front of the posts.

New Zealand 44-15 Canada

Cowen’s passing has been horrendous since the restart, 4/5 of his passes missing their intended target.

A limping Israel Dagg has been replaced by Toeava.

Canadian captain Pat Riordan has been withdrawn and VDM replaced by Sean White.

New Zealand are over again! Kaino explodes from the base of an All Black attacking scrum and charges over the line. Just like that.

Slade pops his conversion over.

New Zealand 51-15 Canada

Substitutions: New Zealand– Weepu for Muliaina; Boric for Read.

Canada– Hamilton for Riordan; Franklin for Marshall.

Ben Franks replaces Owen in the All Black front row.

The game has lost its hurtling forward momentum…

Poll: Can the All Blacks win this World Cup without Dan Carter at fly-half?

Poll Results:

Yes (10)
No (6)

Sonny Bill has his first of the game! Quick hands see the ball shuffled across the New Zealand line, eventually reaching Williams on the left touchline. He takes a skip, then two lightening fast strides over the line.

Weepu, who’s switched to fly-half, makes the conversion.

New Zealand 58-15 Canada

Ellis is on for Jimmy Cowen.

Brad Thorn is on for Slade, forcing Vito, of all people, to switch to the wing. If Carter’s former understudy is injured– and he may well be– the All Blacks could find themselves in some serious difficulty.

Tiedermann, Hotson and Hirayama have joined the fray for Canada.

Kaino’s over again for New Zealand! The All Blacks drive an offensive scrum over the line. Kaino, who’s been shuffling forward with the ball at his feet, only has to drop to his haunches and touch the ball to claim the five points.

Weepu makes the conversion.

New Zealand 65-15 Canada

Kaino with a defender stuck, limpet-like, to his legs, swats away a handful of Canucks away in miDfield… he’s such a dynamic presence.

The All Blacks are beginning to find their rhythm again, looking more incisive and sure-footed in attack.

Adam Kleeberger and Tony Woodcock collide shoulder-to-shoulder a few metres short of the Canadian try-line. The contact may well have generated a sonic boom. Both players are escorted from the pitch, the hirsute Canadian, eyes rolling about in his head, looking significantly the worse for wear.

What a try for Zac Guildford! The No11 claims a chipped kick from Weepu and, lengthening his stride, embarks on a meandering, looping run through the Canadian defence, eventually coming to rest under the right post. Incredible.

Weepu makes the conversion.

New Zealand 72-15 Canada

New Zealand have another! Weepu, who’s looked very convincing at fly-half, cushions a pass for Vito, who’s drifted in from the wing. The Canadian defence, looking very tired and listless, can’t get close to the No7.

Weepu makes the conversion.

New Zealand 79-15 Canada

Full-time: Of the two half-back pairings, Weepu and Ellis looked the most impressive. Slade, burdened perhaps by Cowen’s inconsistency, performed passably, if unspectacularly.

“It concerns me that they’re still tinkering at nine, heading into the quarter-finals…”

– Sean Fitzpatrick.

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