The New Zealand All Blacks have started their 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign in style, easily claiming victory over Tonga 41 to 10 in the first match of the tournament at Eden Park, Auckland this evening.
Dan Carter opened the scoring with a converted penalty in the fourth minute of the match, opening the flooding gates for an early All Blacks assault.
Israel Dagg followed up with the first try of the tournament in the 11th minute, after good work from Carter, Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu.
After much discussion regarding his future and role within the All Blacks, Williams impressed in the match, involved in a number of the All Blacks attacks throughout the match, including some impressive offloads.
But it was far from the demolishing All Blacks display many had predicted from the home side in the tournament opener.
Tonga got on the scoreboard just before half-time thanks to a converted penalty from fly-half Kurt Morath, in a spirited display from the minnows in front of a big Kiwi crowd
The Tongans, ranked 12th in the IRB rankings, managed to ease the All Black tide in the second half, with replacement prop Sona Taumalolo going over in the 72nd minute – their first try of the match.
But the All Blacks never looked threatened. Showing glimpses of the flare we have come to expect from the Kiwis, Nonu added the final try in the 76th minute from yet another Williams offload to seal the match.
The match thus ended 41-10; a comfortable victory for the All Blacks, albeit unconvincing given the lofty expectations they headed into the tournament with. But they are nevertheless on the board.
The All Blacks next face Japan at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton on Friday September 16, while Tonga meets Canada at the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei on Wednesday September 14.
View our live blog of the match – All Blacks v Tonga