Blacks flay Fiji

New Zealand completely overwhelmed a hapless Fiji in a 60-14 victory in Dunedin.

The Springboks, who face the Fijians in the pool stage at the World Cup, have little to be concerned about. The side the islanders fielded this evening is unlikely to differ much from the one that will front in Wellington, and on the evidence of this showing against a weakened Blacks side, that contest is likely to be an even bigger mismatch.

Fiji simply did not have the physicality and tactical intelligence to trouble their hosts. Trailing 32-0 at the break, it had become a damage limitation exercise for them, not that anybody, besides those romantics still drunk on the euphoria from Samoa’s upset of Australia, expected any less.

The Fijians’ physical inferiority on defence ensured uninterrupted service to the Blacks’ back division. They are irresistible when they control the tempo and flow of the game in this manner, which the visitors would discover. Twice in the first half they struck through the same pattern – powerful punches up the right hand side of the field that sucked in defenders, followed by lightning-quick snaps to the left, where Sitiveni Sivivatu and Andrew Hore finished.

Colin Slade and Adam Thomson contributed first half tries as well, the latter acquitting himself well rather than setting the world alight. There would also be workman-like performances from Sivivatu, Ma’a Nonu, Ali Williams and Thomson.

On attack the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers never seriously threatened the Blacks. Certainly the were able to keep possession through numerous phases, but much of their play took place well behind the advantage line, and their reluctance to commit cleaners to the breakdown offered the Blacks opportunities to stifle their momentum. Furthermore, they were massacred at scrum time, conceding six tightheads. Indeed their only tries of the match came thanks their opponents’ lethargy at ruck time and a defensive lapse.

A string of substitutions as well as a loose approach momentarily affected the Blacks’ synergy and potency adversely, but they soon found their groove, tries from Conrad Smith, Piri Weepu and Mils Muliaina ensuring that the scoreboard reflected their sides’ utter dominance.