All Blacks blunt Italians
New Zealand came through a fierce battle with Italy with a 20-6 victory at the San Siro in Milan.
Last Updated: 15/11/09 2:07pm
Italy gave New Zealand a big test in Milan, but the All Blacks proved too strong with a 20-6 victory making it three wins on the bounce on their season-ending tour.
Behind the backing of a sell-out crowd at the San Siro in Milan, the Italians pushed the All Blacks all the way, especially up front, but could not find a big breakthrough.
On the back of a Bledisloe Cup win over Australia in Tokyo and defeat of Wales in Cardiff, New Zealand made it three out of three with just a single try from Corey Flynn during the match.
Luke McAlister slotted five penalties and the All Blacks extended their 100% run against Italy with an 11th win, while the Azzurri replied with two Craig Gower penalties.
The tourists struggled to contain the home side's power up front, and the ferocious Italian forwards forced numerous collapsed All Blacks scrums in the latter stages, although the hosts could not breach the visitors' line.
Rugby took centre stage in front of 77,000 fans at the home of Serie A giants AC Milan and Inter and Italy drew first blood.
Gower punished an All Blacks infringement at the scrum to put the Azzurri in front in the second minute but McAlister responded after the hosts transgressed on the floor.
Another Italy mistake allowed McAlister to boot the visitors in front for the first time after 14 minutes and they soon extended their lead with the game's only try.
A flowing All Blacks move freed debutant Tamati Ellison, who sniped through a gap, before the ball was recycled for Sitiveni Sivivatu and the wing fed hooker Flynn to touch down in the corner.
McAlister punished Italy's further indiscipline with his third penalty to establish a 14-3 half-time advantage. Gonzalo Garcia was found guilty of stealing the ball from the wrong side and ordered to the sin bin, allowing McAlister to extend New Zealand's lead.
Australia-born Gower cut the gap with his second penalty after Italy's pressure on the All Blacks scrum was rewarded. McAlister's attempt to restore the 14-point advantage found an upright, but almost immediately he was given another opportunity which he took.
Sergio Parisse showed glimpses of why he is regarded the world's best number eight, including gathering his own chip and chase, but the captain could not galvanise his troops enough to sustain a fightback.
Italy applied pressure on the All Blacks scrum in the closing minutes with prop Neemia Tialata sin-binned for continually pulling down.
The offending continued and the Azzurri pleaded with referee Stuart Dickenson for a penalty try which never came as the All Blacks successfully ran down the clock for victory.
Graham Henry's side now meet England at Twickenham next Saturday before meeting France and the Barbarians.