New Zealand qualify for World Cup quarters after thrashing minnows Uruguay

New Zealand's Cam Roigard celebrates with teammates after scoring a try during their Rugby World Cup Pool A match against Uruguay

New Zealand's Cam Roigard celebrates with teammates after scoring a try during their Rugby World Cup Pool A match against Uruguay at the OL Stadium in Decines-Charpieu on Thursday. Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Published Oct 5, 2023


The All Blacks stormed into the World Cup quarter-finals with another mesmeric display of attacking rugby to put down an initially troublesome Uruguay 73-0 in their final Pool A match on Thursday.

After losing their tournament opener to France, New Zealand ran in 11 tries against Namibia, 14 against Italy and added another 11 against Los Teros at OL Stadium.

Damian McKenzie score two tries and made a couple more in an outstanding display, while winger Will Jordan grabbed his 26th and 27th five-pointers in only his 28th test with a performance just as good.

The other New Zealand outside back, Leicester Fainga'anuku, joined the party late with a second-half hat-trick as the Uruguayans wilted under huge pressure.

The bonus-point victory sent the three-times World Cup winners to the top of Pool A, two points clear of France before the tournament hosts face Italy in their final opening-round match at the same stadium on Friday.

Uruguay, eliminated before Thursday's match after a win and two losses, had said they would take the fight to the All Blacks and they were as good as their word, particularly in the first 20 minutes.

New Zealand had two tries scratched off in the opening quarter but there was nothing unequal about the contest as 17th-ranked Uruguay gave as good as they got.

After Uruguay winger Gaston Mieres had burned Fainga'anuku on the outside in extraordinary fashion, flanker Manuel Ardao almost gave the South Americans the lead, only to be forced into touch at the last moment by Anton Leinart-Brown.

McKenzie glided over after a five-metre scrum to finally get the All Blacks on the board in the 20th minute.

Flyhalf Richie Mo'unga grabbed the second in similar fashion five minutes later and Jordan crossed after a sensational McKenzie flick infield from the touchline just after the half hour mark.

Scrumhalf Cam Roigard, making his second test start, grabbed the all-important fourth try to secure the bonus point from another five-metre scrum to give the All Blacks a 26-0 halftime lead.

New Zealand played far more direct rugby after the interval and prop Fletcher Newell, an early injury replacement for Tyrel Lomax, blasted through a tackler to grab the fifth try.

A looping miss-pass from Jordan sent the unmarked Fainga'anuku in for the sixth and McKenzie scored the seventh.

Uruguay, ever willing, managed to stem the flood of tries before Jordan and Fainga'anuku got their second scores and replacement prop Tamaiti Williams drove over the line for his first test try.

Fainga'anuku put a gloss on the scoreline two minutes from time but, to the delight of the neutrals in the crowd, the final attack came from the South Americans.