New Zealand's All Blacks delivered a resounding 96-17 victory over Italy, firmly asserting their intentions at the Rugby World Cup.
The match, which unfolded at OL Stadium, witnessed the Kiwi side scoring an astounding 14 tries, leaving Italy struggling to keep pace.
The All Blacks, known for their physicality and clinical precision, completely disregarded any hopes of an upset victory by Italy, a team they had defeated in all previous 15 encounters. The tone for the match was set early, with scrumhalf Aaron Smith notching up an impressive hat-trick in the first half.
Ardie Savea, donning the number eight jersey, was an unstoppable force with the ball, securing the bonus point for his team with a try in the 22nd minute and adding another before the halftime whistle. Notably, New Zealand displayed remarkable discipline on the field, a far cry from their earlier warm-up match struggles and their initial Rugby World Cup encounters.
This emphatic win propelled New Zealand into second place in Pool A, securing 10 crucial points. They now sit closely behind group leaders France, with only three points separating the two teams. The All Blacks' next challenge will be against Uruguay, while France gears up to face Italy in a crucial clash.
The All Blacks' first points came in the sixth minute when Will Jordan showcased his brilliance with a try following Jordie Barrett's pinpoint crosskick. Mark Talea, another winger, added to Italy's misery with a try after a piercing run from Ardie Savea.
Despite being significantly behind at 49-3, Italy showed renewed determination in the second half. Ange Capuozzo managed to breach New Zealand's defense, scoring their first try against the All Blacks since 2016.
The match also held a special milestone as Sam Whitelock, on his 149th test, surpassed Richie McCaw as the most-capped All Black of all time. In a fitting tribute, Brodie Retallick powered over the line seconds after Whitelock's entrance, scoring New Zealand's eighth try.
Dalton Papali'i, Dane Coles, and Damian McKenzie, all made significant contributions, scoring tries for the All Blacks. Replacement center Anton Leinart-Brown sealed the victory with the 14th try, putting New Zealand within reach of the 101 points they scored against Italy back in the 1999 World Cup.
The match also witnessed a change in the kicking duties, with Damian McKenzie taking over from Richie Mou'nga and successfully converting four kicks out of four. Italy managed to score a try through winger Monty Ioane in the closing seconds, displaying their resilience despite the overwhelming defeat.