Outclassed Canadians crushed

The All Blacks predictably pumped Canada 79-15. Equally predictable was the performance of flyhalf Colin Slade.

The man tasked with wearing injured Dan Carter’s massive boots had a kick charged down in the first two minutes, threw a terrible pass and then made a very good break to confirm the only consistency in his game is his inconsistency.

His first touchline conversion in a difficult wind was magnificent but he then failed with four of his next six kicks.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry, desperate to lift the mood of the Kiwi public, even asked the New Zealand media to support Slade but the reality is all that will improve the spirits of New Zealanders is more consistency to Slade’s game.

He certainly is not the answer yet at this level and continues to mix the acceptable with the mediocre.

New Zealand’s scrum was powerful, the lineout wobbly and the backs on another planet as the tournament hosts scored four tries within 25 minutes, had their fifth on the half and hour, added a sixth before half-time and scored 12 in 80 minutes.

Canada scored a popular try just before half-time but they looked like a side that had played four matches in 17 days, with their last outing three days ago.

Zac Guilford, in his first start of the tournament, scored a first half hattrick and Sonny Bill Williams showed his usual bag of tricks in breaking the line, but this match was all about Slade’s ability to take charge at No 10.

And he never did. He was a link at best.

On 50 minutes Henry subbed veteran fullback Mils Muliaina, moved Slade to right wing and introduced Piri Weepu at flyhalf.

The All Blacks had 50 points at this stage, scoring at a point a minute, but with the individual exceptions of man of the match Jerome Kaino, Conrad Smith, Guilford, Williams and Weepu, the collective display was not particularly fluid and it came against a Canadian side that was feisty but fatigued.

Slade then hobbled off with 15 minutes to go but that may be a blessing on a day all New Zealanders cursed because of Carter’s groin.