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New Zealand 71-3 Namibia: First All Blacks win of Rugby World Cup marred by late Ethan de Groot red card

New Zealand half-backs Cam Roigard and Damian McKenzie scored twice each as the All Blacks ran in 11 tries against Nambia; prop Ethan de Groot's late red card for a high tackle spoilt an otherwise near-perfect response to an opening-game defeat to France

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Despite having Ethan de Groot sent off, New Zealand thrashed Namibia 71-3 in Pool A to get their Rugby World Cup campaign back on track. (Picture credit: RWCL)

New Zealand overcame Namibia 71-3 in Toulouse with a ruthless display of attacking to get off the mark in Pool A of the Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks began their tournament with a defeat to hosts France in Paris but had no such trouble in their second outing as Cam Roigard and Damian McKenzie each scored two tries to help Ian Foster's side collect a bonus point and move second in the pool.

Namibia remain without a victory in 23 attempts at the World Cup going back to 1999 and never looked strong enough to pose problems for New Zealand - for whom Ethan de Groot was red carded in the final minutes - in a game played largely in torrential rain.

The three-time winners drew first blood after only two minutes. McKenzie kicked on for Leicester Fainga'anuku to collect and he offloaded for Roigard to take over and score under the posts, with McKenzie converting comfortably.

It took only another six minutes for the lead to extend to 12 points when Roigard received the ball from a scrum and went over for his second try.

New Zealand forward Ethan de Groot was sent off for a high tackle
Image: New Zealand forward Ethan de Groot was sent off for a high tackle

Namibia's night took a further turn for the worse when centre Le Roux Malan suffered a bad knee injury, leaving the pitch on a stretcher and clutching an oxygen mask, moments after Tiaan Swanepoel had cut the deficit with a penalty.

Minutes later New Zealand pulled further ahead when McKenzie went over for a converted try, weaving through Namibia's line to make it 19-3.

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The bonus point was secured for the All Blacks with 15 minutes of the first half still to play, Fainga'anuku powering over and showing excellent hands for his team's fourth try, before two tries in just over a minute made the score unassailable before the break.

First, took full advantage of the slippery conditions with two well controlled kicks along the ground to get in behind Namibia and drop on it as it crossed the try line, then McKenzie added his second of the game when he collected from Roigard off a scrum and crossed the whitewash to make it 38-3 at the interval.

New Zealand's Anton Lienert-Brown scores a try during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match between New Zealand and Namibia at the Stadium de Toulouse in Toulouse, France, Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Image: Anton Lienert-Brown scored one of the All Blacks' 11 tries

De Groot ensured New Zealand began the second half in the same ruthless vain with which they finished the first, the prop crashing over just 30 seconds after coming off the bench despite the attentions of two Namibia defenders.

Beauden Barrett made the next try for Dalton Papalii, breaking out wide before slipping the ball across with a fine bullet pass for Papalii to go over under the posts, minutes before David Havili took advantage of a superb run through the middle from Roigard to go over the line and make it 57-3.

Caleb Clarke scored New Zealand's 10th try when he got on the end of a cross-field kick from Richie Mo'unga to slide over the line.

De Groot was sent to the sin bin with eight minutes to play - later upgraded to a red card for dangerous play - but it did not halt New Zealand's charge, replacement Rieko Ioane scoring to make it 71-3 near the end.

Roigard: McKenzie style suits my game

Roigard, who was awarded player of the match on his first Test start for the All Blacks, said he enjoyed his half-back combination with McKenzie.

"It's pretty surreal. The atmosphere here is outstanding. I suppose we were quite fortunate that our forwards were dominant, giving me a good platform to play off," Roigard said.

"On the other side, credit to Naimbia, they showed a lot of passion and heart.

"I suppose we [Roigard and McKenzie] have had some training reps together and we're sort of starting to work out how we like to play.

"I know that his attacking style suits mine as well, so really enjoyed tonight playing alongside him."

What's next?

New Zealand face their toughest remaining pool-stage fixture when they take on Italy on Friday 29 September in Lyon (8pm kick-off BST).

The match is likely to decide who will finish second to France in Pool A, with the hosts having beaten the All Blacks in the tournament opener.

Namibia's next match is against the hosts at the Stade de Marseille on Thursday 21 September (8pm kick-off BST), with the minnows likely in for another tough evening.

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