Liam Napier: The winners and losers from All Blacks v Namibia

Liam Napier: The winners and losers from All Blacks v Namibia

By Liam Napier in Toulouse

Cam Roigard seized his chance to alter the halfback pecking order as the All Blacks predictably pummelled Namibia with elements of sweet and sour to notch their first win of this Rugby World Cup campaign.

Roigard, in his maiden test start, had the most to gain from the All Blacks second pool match on a cooler evening in Toulouse. He wasted no time delivering the sweet with a man of the match displaying to send a statement to the selectors that he must be retained in the first-choice squad from here on.

With two first half tries, accurate delivery, two snipping runs from the base to set up David Havili and Damian McKenzie and one box kick that forced a turnover, Roigard showcased his lethal threats in another impressive 66-minute effort to surely seal his elevation above Finlay Christie.

Advertisement

Advertise with NZME.

With nine minutes remaining, though, Ethan de Groot soured the All Blacks’ dominant display with a high shot that will land him a nervy date with the judiciary.

Cam Roigard of the All Blacks scores the team’s first try. Photo / Getty Images

After coming off the bench in the second half de Groot copped an unnecessary yellow card that was then upgraded to a red for his high hit on Adriaan Booysen.

At that point, it was the last scene the All Blacks needed. With a suspension seemingly incoming, de Groot’s difficult World Cup campaign just got a whole lot worse.

De Goot’s dismissal shines a further spotlight on costly discipline issues for the All Blacks after three yellow cards in the loss to the Springboks and a 12-4 penalty count in the World Cup-opening defeat to France.

Advertisement

Advertise with NZME.

Other than De Groot’s exit collectively this match was a case of job done, onto the next for the All Blacks.

No World Cup contender will be quaking in their boots after this result, though. For context, in their last three World Cup meetings, the All Blacks have now beaten Namibia by a cumulative 196-26.

Successive, record defeats the All Blacks needing to unleash frustrations, to regain their attacking spark and confidence.

It wasn’t always slick but Namibia, who are yet to record a World Cup win, were always going to be a training ground exercise. And so it proved as the tries – all 11 of them – flowed to leave the full house well entertained.

Namibia offered little in the way of genuine resistance. They had a crack by turning down shots at goal but they also kicked the ball out on the full from dropouts and dead from restarts. Their lineout fell to pieces under pressure and their defence was consistently cut to shreds, too, particularly when the All Blacks launched the counter attack.

The All Blacks targeted specific flaws at the scrum, breakdown, with their discipline and their excessive kicking strategy. While they largely improved those areas, the level of opposition means they will take little of meaningful relevance from such a cakewalk.

The most pleasing aspect of the performance, other than Roigard’s impressive injection from the base, was the scrum platform where starting props Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Nepo Laulala led the way to leverage multiple penalties and one statement tighthead that laid on Roigard’s second strike.

The All Blacks buckled in this area against the Boks and France but such was their dominance, there were early fears for the Namibian front-rowers’ safety.

From a kicking perspective the All Blacks embraced much better balance than their opening defeat to France.

Defensively they have work to do. Their goal line and maul defence remains staunch, and they hit hard to force turnovers, but they dropped off too many tackles against a team with minimal attacking penetration.

Advertisement

Advertise with NZME.

A horrific injury to Namibia second five-eighth Le Roux Malan, which left his ankle snapped, stopped the game for 10 minutes while he was stretchered from the field but that didn’t halt the All Blacks momentum as they ran in seven first half tries to lead 38-3 at half time.

After a skittish performance in his last start at first-five against the Wallabies in Dunedin McKenzie delivered another mixed effort. Behind a dominant pack he claimed two tries but the accuracy of his passing wasn’t always there and he had a challenging night at times off the tee.

Beauden Barrett led the charge with frequent involvement from the backfield to regularly spark the All Blacks counter attack. Leicester Fainga’anuku, promoted to the left edge, consistently punched holes with ball in hand to serve a reminder of his powerful presence.

The focus now quickly switches to the All Blacks attempting to defend de Groot at the judiciary and a two-week holding pattern before their defining pool match against Italy. When that juncture arrives we may learn more about whether this All Blacks team has genueinly improved.

All Blacks: Cam Roigard 2, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Damian McKenzie 2, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ethan de Groot, Dalton Papali’i, David Havili, Rieko Ioane tries, McKenzie con 8

Namibia: Tiaan Swanepoel pen

Advertisement

Advertise with NZME.

HT: 38-3

Liam Napier has been a sports journalist since 2010, and his work has taken him to World Cups in rugby, netball and cricket, boxing world title fights and Commonwealth Games.

Related Posts