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'His stock is rising': Christie, Tupaea outstanding as All Blacks crack century against USA

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23rd October, 2021
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It took the All Blacks just 29 seconds to score the opening try of their 104-14 win over the United States in Maryland on Sunday (AEST) and they added another 15 as the predicted mismatch came to pass.

With Finlay Christie starting at No.9 and Richie Mo’unga restored at No.10, the All Blacks ran riot, although they did allow in two tries – the first the USA have ever scored against New Zealand.

It was New Zealand’s largest win over the USA, after the 74-6 margin the last time they played in 2014.

TJ Perenara crossed with the final play to crack the century and give New Zealand their third highest points tally in a Test behind 108 vs. Portugal at the 2007 World Cup and 145 vs. Japan in 1995.

It was also the All Blacks second century of the season – they racked up a 102-0 victory over a depleted Tonga.

Before kick off there was a touching tribute to Maori All Blacks player Sean Wainui, who died in a car crash earlier in the week.

The Americans presented the All Blacks with a No 11 jersey and the Kiwis held an 11 second moment of silence before haka that held even more power and passion than ever.

Luke Jacobson opened the scoring after 29 seconds, Will Jordan scored a hat-trick, and the All Blacks went to the sheds leading 59-7 with nine first half tries.

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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The USA scored their first tries against the All Blacks through halfback Nate Augspurger and winger Ryan Matyas, but the huge gulf between the teams was apparent all game.

Quinn Tupaea, playing his fifth Test, was outstanding for the All Blacks in midfield, running 162 metres with the ball.

“Solid performance once again,” said former All Blacks player Mils Muliaina on Sky Sports NZ. “He’s really stepping up. You need someone solid and sound when things are a little frantic and what I love is his voice, for such a young man.”

Former All Black Jeff Wilson said Tupaea’s development was putting pressure on his rivals.

“He made a couple of errors but the number of times he had his hands on the ball, was involved in the play, I can live with those because you’re not going to get it right every time.”

Christie was busy throughout his time on the park and underlined the incredible depth at No.9 for the All Blacks.

“His selection going forward is going to be pure and simply about the type of player they’re going to want off the bench, whether it’s going to be a physical player, a more experienced player,” said Wilson.

“I look at physicality of Finlay Christie and he’s at the heart of the game. I don’t think there’s a difference in terms of the physicality between these two players [Christie and TJ Perenara]. His speed from ruck to ruck, speed around the field, I think his stock is rising.”

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“Every time he goes out there he’s looking very, very good and fundamentally sound which is very important for any halfback. Passes are good, speed around the ruck. I love what he’s doing.”

Muliaina added: “I’ve been really impressed with how he’s gone about it. What he brings is energy. It’s obvious when you are new to the environment but what I love also is his defensive effort. He’s just going in there making really good tackles but also clearing the ball nicely for his first five.”

Mo’unga returned at No.10, having lost his starting place near the end of the Rugby Campionship when he left to attend the birth of his child.

“Today was a big pass mark for him,” said Muliaina. “He orchestrated the game really well, showed some nice touches but it wasn’t really a game to roll up the sleeves and kick to the corners. But it showed his attacking brilliance.”

Wilson added: “The interesting thing for me is the ombination they’ve been running of Mo’Unga and [Damien] McKenzie and [Beauden] Barrett and [Jordie] Barrett. That’s been through circumstance, but whether or not that’s what they do going forward and for th rest of this tour, I’m not sure.

“The combination of Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett hasn’t had a lot of time to develop. I think it’s a toss up right now. Jordie Barrett was outstanding and I think that impacts who they play at 10.”

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