All Blacks ease through World Cup opener
New Zealand beat Tonga 41-10 in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup but it was an effort which would have left the home team dissatisfied.
There was no moment of magic at Auckland's Eden Park to set the Cup alight, a la John Kirwan in 1987. Lacking also was the consistent assurance and control expected of an All Blacks side no matter the quality of the opposition.
Tonga demonstrated their days as easy beats - they had conceded an average of 74 points a game in their three earlier encounters against New Zealand - are well gone.
As the All Blacks stuttered through the second half, having gone to the break 29-3 up, they struggled with their own efficiency and with the Tongan determination. At one stage they were in danger of being outscored in the half.
A hit by replacement prop Sona Taumalolo on fly-half Dan Carter resulted in 10 minutes of solid defence on the All Blacks line as Tonga tried attempt after attempt against a determined All Blacks defence but Taumalolo had his reward in getting over the line for the try in the 72nd minute.
In the first half, Tonga never enough ball to consistently build pressure.
They kept losing ball and paid the price for kicking a re-start out on the full as New Zealand scored again in the subsequent play.
At that stage the All Blacks were in no mood to allow Tonga any scraps. They cut loose with the outside backs unleashing a bag of merry tricks.
Inside centre Sonny Bill Williams was quickly into the game, running hard, linking with his outsides by unleashing some superb back-of-the-hand passes, one of them to wing Isaia Toeava providing a try for wing Richard Kahui.
Kahui looked for work and when put into space by fullback Israel Dagg he poured on the pace to crash between two defenders for his second try.
An area of concern for the All Blacks was their slow start to the second half when they allowed frustration to unsettle them resulting in mistakes in try-scoring chances.
Toeava, Nonu, Williams and Kahui all had chances that looked like yielding tries. Toeava also had a try ruled out.
Reward finally came after replacement scrum-half Piri Weepu worked a blindside move from a scrum. Kahui took the ball and chipped ahead, regathered and in-passed to the supporting Kaino.
Carter's handy conversion attempt rebounded off the post and missed.
Nonu crossed in the 76th minute after the tempo was lifted. He created the gap, linked with replacement five-eighths Colin Slade, and took a return pass to score.
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