All Blacks dish out rugby lesson to US

The All Blacks enjoyed a romp under the Chicago sun to beat a hapless United States 74-6 in their historic Test at Soldier Field.


In the first rugby international played at an NFL venue, a sold-out crowd of 61,000 witnessed the visitors teach the 18th-ranked Eagles a lesson in all aspects of the game.

Code-hopping inside centre Sonny Bill Williams scored two of the visitors’ 12 tries to mark his first Test appearance for more than two years.

Williams unfurled a standout performance before limping off with a corked thigh midway through the second half.

There were also first-half injuries to hooker Nathan Harris (foot) and winger Cory Jane (hamstring).

Jane is the only player definitely ruled out of next week’s Test against England at Twickenham, although he is an outside chance for the subsequent Tests against Scotland and Wales.

The English Test will be a contrast to the festival football played by the All Blacks, after they withstood a staunch opening from the hosts.

The first 15 minutes were marked by regular chants of “USA USA” from the steepling stands as a committed home side tore in the collisions.

That wasn’t to be heard again as New Zealand rattled off six tries in the 25min before halftime, unleashing slick passes, elusiveness and speed to split a naive defensive line.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen dished out praise to his virtual second-string team.

“They were tasked with setting a foundation for the rest of the tour,” he said.

“There’s a lot of excitement now and, when there’s excitement, things can happen.”

US counterpart Mike Tolkin admits his side were overwhelmed by New Zealand’s speed and precision.

“When you get under pressure after a whole bunch of phases of play, only one team was going to crack and the world champions didn’t,” he said.

“What we saw out there was ruthless efficiency. Every mistake they punished, not with anything fancy but simple fundamental skills to put the ball over the line.”

Harris scored in the third minute, followed by Williams (two), lock Patrick Tuipulotu, winger Charles Piutau, Jane and his replacement, Julian Savea before halftime.

Prop Joe Moody, five-eighth Aaron Cruden, fullback Israel Dagg and flanker Sam Cane notched second-half tries as some impetus went out of the contest.

Savea nabbed his second in the final play, taking his tally to 29 tries from 30 Tests.

Cruden, who landed just four from nine conversions, made way for Dan Carter in the 50th minute.

Carter, playing his first Test for nearly a year, was untroubled by the leg injury which has sidelined him for the last two months.

US five-eighth Adam Siddall kicked two penalties while their captain and 60-Test flanker Todd Clever was the standout figure in a toiling pack.

The All Blacks revelled in bright conditions which were a vast improvement on the snow and biting wind that struck the city on Friday.

The Test had significant commercial backing and was designed to showcase rugby to a large US television audience.