- Reigning champions guaranteed spot in the final eight after seven-try win
- Waisake Naholo scores after just 73 seconds on his return for All Blacks
- New Zealand winger Julian Savea touches down hat-trick
- Dan Carter struggled from the tee, kicking four of seven attempted conversions
- Steve Hansen had to replace Captain Richie McCaw, who limped off
- Georgia score early try through fullback Beka Tsuklauri
Julian Savea touched down a hat-trick for New Zealand as they sluggishly ambled to a bonus point win against Georgia at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night.
Their stalwart number 10 Dan Carter had a shaky evening from the tee in Cardiff, missing three out of seven conversions with three of the four he did kick successfully being from in front of the posts.
Overall, the All Blacks performance in bursts exhibited their exhilarating best but handling errors and unnecessary turnovers plagued an overall discouraging night for Steve Hansen’s men.
Things could have been even worse for New Zealand as iconic captain Richie McCaw limped off, but the skipper confirmed after the game he was just battered and bruised rather than injured.
The All Blacks actually got off to the best possible start in the game when Waisake Naholo on his return from a broken leg took just 73 seconds to dive over with Carter converting to give New Zealand a seven-point lead.
But a score from Georgia two minutes later through Beka Tsiklauri sent the Cardiff crowd crazy with Mamuka Gorgodze levelling things up by adding the extras.
Julian Savea scored a brace while hooker Dane Coles also crossed as the All Blacks secured the bonus point with just over a quarter of the match gone.
Carter missed all three conversions while Gorgodze added another three points from the tee for Georgia; meaning New Zealand held a 22-10 lead at the break
Kieran Read touched down to get the All Blacks going after the break before Savea completed his treble. Malakai Fekitoa then scored New Zealand’s seventh and final try.
Carter converted all three second half tries to give the All Blacks a comfortable win, but it was anything but straightforward, and they still have a lot to work on before the knockout stages get underway.
The All Blacks took just 73 seconds, which is the fastest try of this World Cup so far, to break through the Georgian defence and score their first try through Naholo. The wing showed pace and power, shrugging off Alexander Todua as he dived over between the sticks. Carter converted the resulting conversion.
But two minutes later Georgia shocked the Millennium Stadium as Naholo spilled the ball with Georgia full-back Beka Tsiklauri reacting quickest, grabbing the ball and breaking through to touch down unchallenged. Mamuka Gorgodze added the extras, 7-7.
Georgia wasn’t level long though as Julian Savea bulldozed his way past the Georgian defence to touch down in the corner. Carter’s attempt to add the extras though sailed wide.
Gorgodze then sailed over a penalty for Georgia to cut the All Blacks lead to two points after 11 minutes.
Man-mountain winger Savea darted over again five minutes later for his second try of the match. Carter though was yet again off target with the attempted conversion.
And New Zealand secured the Bonus point with a little over a quarter of the match gone. Richie McCaw managed to draw in the last defender before popping in hooker Dane Coles, who showed his great burst of pace to go over in the corner. Carter missed again, and that is how things stayed at half-time, 22-10
After a sluggish start to the second-half, New Zealand got their fifth score after 52 minutes. This time Read burrowed under the Georgian defence to touch down between the posts. The time Carter cannot miss from in front of the posts.
Savea then completed his treble after 73 minutes. The winger this time received a pass from Fekitoa and was able to stroll in for the score, which was his 35th in 38 games, which is the best strike rate of any player to score 15+ tries for the All Blacks.
Carter finally nailed a kick from out wide to improve his stats, 36-10
Fekitoa then finished the games try scoring, this time using Savea outside him as a decoy to cross the whitewash unchallenged. And Carter kicked the conversion from in front of post to secure the convincing win but the performance was in truth disappointing and sloppy throughout.
What comes next
New Zealand will be hoping for a much-improved performance against Tonga in their final pool match at St James Park next Friday night while Georgia face Namibia in Exeter next Wednesday knowing a win could see them finish third in the pool, which would guarantee qualification for the 2019 installment of the Rugby World Cup.
Man of the match- Julian Savea
The display from the All Blacks was far from complete, but their bulldozing wing Savea was the one bright spark of Friday night’s game. He carried with real intent and showed he hasn’t lost a step with three fantastic finishes. The wing is also now this year’s Rugby World Cup’s top try-scorer with five.