Normal service was resumed with a vengeance in the Stadio Olimpico. The All Blacks stormed into Italy from the off and their pace and aggression was too much for O’Shea’s new look side throughout most of the game.
The result was to be expected as was a heavy margin of victory. The disappointment for many of the Italian pundits was their team didn’t make a game of it.
The scrum was weak, the line out too, and when they did get hold off the ball they were far too slow to recycle it. The result was even in the fifth or sixth phase of possession the All Blacks were right in their faces, and the Italian kicking to relieve the pressure simply presented their opponents with the chance to run at them in broken play.
The new coach could not be happy, but there were some positives. “I’m dissatisfied because we are competitive people who don’t like losing,” said O’Shea. “But I’ve got a lot of faith in the team after today’s game: I saw their will to stick to the game plan which we’d prepared.”
The Italian kicking was inaccurate and they could not press high enough up the pitch but it enable them to conserve their energy, unlike previous matches when they have run themselves into the ground and faded badly.
Italy carried on battling to the idea despite being outgunned and even came on stronger in the final 10-15 minutes, pressing New Zealand into a few mistakes, one of which brought a fine breakaway try.
As a pointer to Saturday in Dublin there was little to learn directly from this match, other than some obvious things to avoid. New Zealand showed their strength in depth and there can be no doubt they are set on vengeance for Chicago.
On the right wing Israel Dagg was outstanding – even if he was able to take advantage of some poor defending - which gives them a nice selection choice. Aaron Cruden and Sam Cane were two who caught the eye of Italian pundits but both Scott Barrett and Brodie Retallick, on his return to the side, were just as impressive.
The weaknesses were a lot less obvious. But the fact the Italians did succeed in forcing handling errors towards the end of the match should encourage Ireland, above all if this match goes down to the wire.
Tries: Boni. Cons: Allan. Pens: Canna.
Padovani, Bisegni, Benvenuti, McLean, Esposito, Canna, Bronzini, Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Cittadini, Fuser, van Schalkwyk, Mbanda, Favaro, Parisse.
Boni for Esposito (64), Allan for Canna (51), Gori for Bronzini (51), Panico for Lovotti (79), Gega for Ghiraldini (11), Ceccarelli for Cittadini (44), Biagi for Fuser (55), Minto for Mbanda (55).
Tries: Fekitoa 2, Faumuina, Tuipulotu, Dagg, Crockett, Luatua, Dixon, Ioane, Naholo. Cons: Cruden 7, Sopoaga 2.
McKenzie, Dagg, Fekitoa, Liernert-Brown, Naholo, Cruden, Kerr-Barlow, Crockett, Taylor, Faumuina, Tuipulotu, S. Barrett, Dixon, Cane, Luatua.
Ioane for Dagg (50), Sopoaga for Cruden (61), A. Smith for Kerr-Barlow (55), Moody for Crockett (70), Coltman for Taylor (66), Tu’ungafasi for Faumuina (56), Todd for Tuipulotu (59), Retallick for S. Barrett (54).
Nigel Owens (Wales).