Benito Masilevu's huge side-steps


Ludovic Mercier crazy reverse pass


Streaker starts mass brawl after tackle


Ben Funnell slamming tackle on Hawkins


Brian O'Driscoll Breakdown Masterclass


The Human Hurdle Attempt


Sam Burgess breaks cheekbone, plays on


Ben Flower red card for vicious punches


Step and unbelievable dummy sets up try

Friday, September 09, 2011

All Blacks beat Tonga in opening match of Rugby World Cup 2011

The Rugby World Cup 2011 kicked off in New Zealand with a fantastic opening ceremony, followed by the host nation beating a determined Tonga 41-10 at Eden Park in Auckland. Fullback Israel Dagg scored the opening try of the tournament.

The All Blacks came out looking slick as their talented backs turned it on, scoring fantastic tries as they ran circles around the hapless Tongans in the first half. The second wasn't quite as good, as Tonga came back into the game with a pick and drive tactic that kept possesion away from the home side.

Israel Dagg and Richard Kahui ended up with two tries a piece though, while Jerome Kaino and Ma'a Nonu scored in the second half. Nonu and center partner Sonny Bill Williams were lethal, Williams in particular, as he offloaded in the tackle with ease, pulling off some incredible passes.

Tonga did score a try of their own however as Alisona Taumalolo went over after a period of sustained pressure resulted in a well taken, and well deserved, try for the big front rower.

While the performance of the All Blacks in the first half will have sent a message to the rest of their opposition, and put coach Graham Henry in a tight position when it comes to future selections, their second half showing was perhaps a little warning sign. They did take the foot off the gas, but they'll soon face tighter challenges and need to be able to adapt their game, and learn how to win ugly.

All in all it was a great win however, and a brilliant display of the kind of ability that exists within the squad, with whoever gets selected showing that they're capable of stepping up and turning things on when needed.

You can watch official highlights on the Rugby World Cup website now.

What were your thoughts on the match?

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Posted at 11:41 am | 30 comments

Viewing 30 comments

Dagg September 09, 2011 12:40 pm

The New Zealand backs are scarily good!

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Rugbydump September 09, 2011 12:44 pm

Just a quick note, some of the tries or the Haka might be posted here later, depending on if they're removed from youtube or not. For now the official highlights are quite good, and can be seen everywhere around the world. Just make sure you've got Silverlight installed

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Gungehammer September 09, 2011 12:47 pm

Not as polished as an AB fan would want. SBW one good half, one poor. Dagg looked very classy as usual, Kahui as well. Tight five need to spend the next week practising their scrummaging technique!

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z3r0326 September 09, 2011 12:53 pm

Overall I feel the ABs played well. However, the forwards (especially McCaw) need to become a more physical presence during the game. Carter may be excused from his lack of physicality and running breaks by virtue of his position as a flyhalf, but McCaw needs to step in to his role a game changer in rucks and breakdowns on this global stage. Regardless, it was a great first showing by a NZ side that definitely has the potential to take the Webb Ellis Cup by the end of October.

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moddeur September 09, 2011 12:58 pm

The Tongan defense in open field play was quite poor, but they have made progress in set pieces which helped them to their best score ever vs the ABs. Also worth noting: the ABs seemed a bit nervous in the first ten minutes, there might be some home tension after all but who can blame them, so huge is their fans' expectation.
I didn't find that SBW was perfect, I mean sure he succeeded in making a few great offloads, but he also flipped some balls straight back at no one and was a bit greedy on two try occasions. The man of the match in my opinion was Nonu, brilliant in animating the AB attack, solid in every aspect of the game.
Last note: the scrum that led to the AB's first try in the second half should have been stopped (penalised) because an AB player hooked the ball with his hand. But the try that was refused to the ABs should have been allowed (foot was in touch after grounding in my opinion).

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brookmcg September 09, 2011 1:20 pm

Nothing has been said about the poor performance (it actually negated the ability of Carter) of halfback Jimmy Cowan, his poor kicking, passing, timing, just was all over horrible, and really made Dan useless. I guess SBW did what he was meant to and made 2-3 tries happen on the back of his passing, so some of those mistakes can be forgotten, otherwise a solid game which could improve dramatically. The forwards need to play themselves into the game much much more and compete physically and not let the Tongans control the tempo. But remember that alot of the Tongans come from Europe and New Zealand and are quality players.

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moddeur September 09, 2011 1:24 pm

Yeah, earlier today I checked the composition of the entire Tongan squad, and it appears that 7 (or was it 6?) of them play in France though not all in the Top14, and 2 or 3 in the British Isles.

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scrumjack September 09, 2011 1:22 pm

Only caught the second half. I must say the AB's played well, but the Tongan's didn't play very well. AB's could have played alot better then they did. If they play at a standard like that against a team such as Australia they won't stand a chance. Overall I think it was a slow laboured game.

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Jeri September 09, 2011 1:27 pm

Loved the atmosphere, and it was a great game, somewhat marred by the referee continually resetting the scrums.

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Gaspar September 09, 2011 1:33 pm

The official (rugbyworldcup.com) higlights are good, but the software implementation is poor. You just can't leave de video downloading while reading another page. It is live-streaming, and if your connection is slow, is a very frustrating watch.
Cheers for RD for the new site!

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jmark September 09, 2011 1:58 pm

Cant get the highlights to work - on a mac, neither in Firefox, Safari or Chrome. Any ideas, or its going to be a pretty bleak RWC

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jmark September 09, 2011 2:00 pm

PS I installed silverlight etc

Not that I expect rugbydump to fix it, but just wondered if any other users find the same - just a white screen where video should be?

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jmark September 09, 2011 2:06 pm

now its working - just shows what commenting on here can do!

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BuzzKillington September 09, 2011 2:26 pm

Already i hate this World Cup... i just know i'm gonna miss about 70% of live games... NZ should change their time zone around so they sleep in the day and work in the dark, to accommodate European fans

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Juggernauter September 09, 2011 2:53 pm

Woke up at 4 am to watch this game live! Great opening ceremony, very flashy and with the Big Fella starring... the carnival atmosphere in the Auckland Bay was just awesome overall

Regarding the game, I may say that from the minute 11 to half time the AB's were brilliant, showing classy finishing from Kahui and Dagg, some neat passing from SBW and solid running from Nonu. However, as said before, Cowan had a shocker, and along destroyed Carter's performances, with poor kicking and passing.

On a side note, I don't get why Henry picked Toeava instead of Gear. He's already got 4 centres (Smith, Nonu, SBW and Kahui) and a lack of good outside backs. Anyway...

The second half was more like a WC final: lots of errors, more physical, and mainly poorly played. If the AB's play like this against France... let's hope it was just the nerves!

Gonna be an awesome World CUp

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brookmcg September 12, 2011 4:31 pm

Toeava was selected as back up to both Dagg and Mils at full back, but can also shift to the wing or centre because of his size and pace (he also can kick well too). I guess he was selected on his sheer versatility, and the fact he is a great player in all respects at test level. He also has a few caps under his belt and could potentially handle situations and change his game, where as Gear is a specialist winger, which the AB's are not lacking in any respect, and also Gear I hate to say it did not show enough as a pure winger (thus far anyways) to override the value in picking up the solid Toeava.

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BuzzKillington September 09, 2011 3:55 pm

Good luck getting highlights on RD too mate, the RugbyWorldCup people are removing everything from Youtube -- But don't have the intelligence to put up their own highlights.

I'm sorry to say but I can see it now, outside of hardcore Rugby supporters this World Cup is going to be a massive failure. Can't even show people highlights of games, what a shame.

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Bruno M September 09, 2011 4:17 pm

Bloody Silverlight, I installed it and it doesn't work. Why can't they just put the highlights on an official Youtube page and link to that (like the rest of the internet is doing...)?

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mpc-33 September 09, 2011 4:19 pm

I'm French & an AB fan. So, before you start reading, i'd like to apologize for my poor english.

I watched the whole game (with the awful TF1 channel commentators, my french mates know what i'm talking about) and i'm a bit disapointed as an AB fan... But i have to reckon that the Tongian Defense was really physical, especially in the final act (which was quite surprising, and shows a real fitness improvment)
AB's lacked trust in this game, mainly in the earlier part, althought knock-ons continued throurought the game. Maybe it's because of the two latest defeat, i don't know. But honestly, if they wanna win the WC, they have to be waaaaay better than that. And GH has to stop making experimental selections.

I really rate Cowan, but he was awful in this game. His passing and kicks were poor. But I suspect the AB's inneficient ruck cleanout was partly responsible of this...
The AB scrum was good untill Woodcock went out. Ben Francks is a good Tighthead, but is not as good at Loosehead. ABs only have one Loosehead for this WC, and they will have to do with it. Crockett should be there. Moreover, as soon as Thorn was subbed, ABs started to lack of physicality. Whitelock is excellent in the air and in open play, but NZ lack an enforcer when Thorn/Boric (in form) is not there.
NZ Herald can say everything they want about MeaLamu's lineout throw, Hore isn't better either, and Flynn is not a solution.
SBW wasn't that good. Ok, he's got talent, ok, he tackled well. But he made several mistakes that cost his side at least a penalty and a scrum in their 22. Against any major nation (no disrespect to Tonga), it may cost a WC. Nonu has to be the starting second-five eight.
Vito is not Read. He brings something different but hasn't the forward-backs "linking" quality than Kieran has and suits to the AB's gameplan. Kaino is the incubent 6 and will stay. Thompson has to wait on the bench (and please, do not put him at 7).

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mpc-33 September 09, 2011 4:19 pm

Dagg is excellent, i'm a big fan of Muliaina, but this kid is awesome. Let's hope he can handle pressure in knock-out stages.
Kahui was excellent as well, but he's not a winger. It worked well against Tonga but he'll lack speed against harder opposition (Ok, back in 2008, it worked). He's a center, but Conrad partnership & class with Ma'a will probably keep him out of this spot, unless he keeps on playing like that.
Toeava... I've often said it, he's ONLY good at fullback and can cover in case of injury. The only time he played really well for the ABs was in HK in 2008 when he started at 15. Henry only have Guilford as a 11 and can't do otherwise. I'm a bit sick to see center coming to the wing only to bring physicallity. I understand why putting fullbacks at 14 (CJ has to start), to cover the field, but you need a real winger at 11 and a game-breaker if you can (which Zac isn't).

Concerning Tonga, if was quiet happy to see them that solid at scrum-time (especially with Taumalolo, who was excellent when he came on) and in the pick and rive art. They have to tidy-up their defence on wings thought. I think they may prove a hanful against France, depending if they lose against the Abs..

After what i saw this morning, i think France clearly have a chance to beat the Abs. Especially if Graham Henry keeps on going with this messy back-line. Thus, let's see what France can do first.

Cheers, and sorry again for my english...

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paimoe September 09, 2011 9:07 pm

I don't think you can assume France will win because NZ didn't "win good enough" against Tonga.

It's the same as when it was said that NZ didn't win by enough against Fiji, and would be troubled against Aus, but they took them out easily.

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mpc-33 September 09, 2011 9:54 pm

"I don't think you can assume France will win because NZ didn't "win good enough" against Tonga."

I agree with you, that's why i added "let's see what France can do first."

And i agree (and wish) that NZ can up their game during the tournament.

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kidBLUE September 10, 2011 4:27 pm

yeah i think it was a good first hit-out for the all blacks and a win is a win against a stubborn tongan team. what is worrying however is that in our last two matches (against tonga and australia) we have struggled to adjust our game plan when things stop working for us. when the tongans started playing tight, forward oriented play we just didnt seem to have any answers. same with australia in brisbane when they started using rush defense etc. the all blacks seem to ALWAYS struggle to switch things around when they are not the team dominating (maybe because they are not used to it)
i disagree about kahui, i think he has potentially played himself into a staring position. he has never played a bad game for the all blacks, and against tonga showed that he is strong, safe, and more importantly, intelligent(eg chip kick)
frnace had a big scare from japan though!! great game

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mise September 09, 2011 5:14 pm

Ref wasn't the prob with the re-sets, players were. Ref was alright I'd say. Pinged McCaw when he had to be, which doesn't happen all the time.

Can't understand why Tonga didn't try to keep it tight more - like they did for their try. NZ didn't contest the breakdown enough and there were numerous gaps in the middle in and around the ruck.

NZ 9 (COwan) - how is he playing for them? Every other position (apart from 10!) they have 3 players, most of whom are better than most teams' players.

NZ won't be happy with that 2nd half performance, for sure. But they still dominated

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Sangdue September 09, 2011 8:16 pm

Just a thought: All blacks seemed less impressive in the 2 half i agree, but i like to give some perpective to it. It took (from a mistake by Carter) around 10 mins to score a try, given ball in hand, for Tonga. The reply: 3 mins after, Kaino try...hmmm...?


P.S I loved the Tongian fierce "never back down" kind of rugby. And I loved the All Black "grab and flash" kind of rugby. Good opening game.

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NW September 09, 2011 11:45 pm

As a piggie, it was nice to see the Tongan forwards take charge at the end and grind in the try. A sort of statement that says "you backs have had your chance for 70 minutes. It's time for points. It won't be pretty, but it will show up on the score board". Sheer bloodymindedness and hard graft. It also didn't hurt to make it abundantly clear to any team without a top notch front five that they're going to get pushed around.

As a Canadian... ummm... I hope our boys can get volume discounts on ice packs and massage therapy. If the handling errors seen against the USA aren't resolved by Wednesday, it's going to be a bruising outing. We can't afford to get into an 80 minute scrummaging contest with those guys.

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RuggerFan September 10, 2011 7:20 am

Dagg had another good game I think, great potential, and Kahui and a good game on the wing. But I still think NZ's back three should be Dagg, Jane and Mils

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TehLittlePea September 10, 2011 10:08 pm

Expected more from NZ... and i thought conrad smith was preferred to either SBW or Nonu?
btw RD the new commenting systen is great

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paimoe September 11, 2011 11:00 pm

He is. Henry probably just wanted to see how SBW did, to get him some experience in pool matches at least.

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