Rugby World Cup - The kick-off

Rugby World Cup - The kick-off

IT Thu, Sep 8
 

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  • 09:06
    Welcome to the Irish Times coverage of the opening match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. John O'Sullivan here and I'm just readjusting to the horror of seeing George Hook in a dressinggown and pyjamas on RTE's opening credits.  
  • 09:15

     Not sure how many people enjoy the spectacle of an Opening Ceremony but I've seen a lot worse. Time to turn the attention to the first game of the tournament and a match in which all of New Zealand will expect to be a successful starting point to a journey that will end in six weeks time with the host nation claiming the Webb Ellis trophy.

  • 09:23
    New Zealand: Dagg; Kahui, Nonu, Williams, Toeava; Carter, Cowan, Woodcock, Hore, O Franks; Thorn, Williams; Kaino, McCaw, Vito.
    Tonga: Lilo; Iongi, Hufanga, Ma'ilei, Piutau; Morath, Moa; Tonga'uiha, Lutui, Filise; Hehea, Tuineau; Kalamafoni, Maka, Ma'afu.
  • 09:26
    New Zealand and Tonga have played three times with the All Blacks winning all three, scoring 238 points in the process and a try count of 33-1 in their favour. Nearly time for the pre match rituals. Tonga will perform the Sipi Tau and then it'll be over to the All Black Haka.
  • 09:32

    Ireland's George Clancy is the man with the whistle and judging by the Sipi Tau and Haka he might have to use it quite a bit in the opening few minutes.

  • 09:35
    1 min: First penalty of the game against Tonga for not releasing in the tackle. Carter goes down the line rather than taking a long range shot at goal.
  • 09:38
    5 mins: Tonga go for quick lineout on their own line. It's a shambles as the attempted clearance in blocked down. The Islanders scramble well in defence but eventually concede a penalty. Carter easily lands from close range. 
  • 09:41
    Tonga are struggling to settle. Early engagement in the scrum and they give away a free kick. There aren't too many sidesteps in the opening minutes. First glimpse of a Sonny Bill Williams offload, taking out three defenders in the process but Toeava knocks on.
  • 09:43
    There's not too much variety to what Tonga are trying. One out runners, heading straight for contact; they're starting to lose the collisions.
  • 09:46
    10 mins: The first try of 2011 World Cup and it goes to New Zealand fullback Israel Dagg. Starts with a superb break by Richard Kahui who breaks the initial line the of Tongan defence: good hands and weight of numbers allow Dagg to step inside the last tackler. Carter fails with the conversion.
  • 09:47
    New Zealand have made three handling errors to Tonga's none but that's largely because they've owned the ball in the first 13 minutes.
  • 09:51
    15 mins: Take note of the moment, Richie McCaw penalised or maybe it was Sonny Bill Williams. Tongan outhalf Kurt Morath has a go from eight metres inside the New Zealand half; it has the distance but not the accuracy drifting to the right of the posts.
  • 09:55
    19 mins: Sonny Bill Williams with a flip pass behind his back takes out two defends, Toeava fixes the final defender and Kahui crosses for his seventh test try and the All Blacks second of the match. Carter posts the conversion and this looks ominous for Tonga.
  • 09:57
    22 mins: The All Blacks are celebrating again as Sonny Bill dives over the line but referee George Clancy penalises the home side for a bit of crossing earlier in the play. Looks a harsh call.
  • 09:59
    Tonga are beginning to fall off the tackles as the match takes on the characteristics of an opposed training session for the All Blacks.
  • 10:03
    28 mins: Sonny Bill's at it again with another exquisite offload as New Zealand capitalise on another Tongan turnover, Toeava involved too and Dagg crosses for his second try of the game. Carter lands the conversion.
  • 10:09

    32 mins: The All Blacks are now going through their repertoire of offloads; this time it's Dagg flicking it out the back to the supporting Kahui who forces his way past some ineffective tackling for a try. Carter once again lands the extra points.

  • 10:11
    The Tongans are struggling but their cause is not helped by the fact that Clancy is letting the All Blacks defensive line away with blue murder. They are nowhere near the hindmost foot most of the time.
  • 10:17
    40 mins: New Zealand scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan dithers and the result is that the home side go off their feet at a ruck. Tongan outhalf Kurt Morath registers his side's first points of the match right on the half-time whistle. 
  • 10:21

    It's all a little bit too easy for the All Blacks. They're in cruise control. Tonga seem a little cowed by the occasion. They lack their customary aggression and they're falling off too many tackles. The defensive line speed is much too passive and they are regularly coughing up turnovers.  

  • 10:27
    Israel Dagg scores the first try of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
    Israel Dagg scores the first try of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
  • 10:30
    Three changes for Tonga at half-time but within 22 seconds of the resumption the Islanders have conceded another penalty. Carter kicks to the corner as the home side chase a fifth try: they already have their four-try bonus point.
  • 10:32

    It'll be an interesting conversation between the Maka brothers after this game. The coach Isitolo took offer his brother and team captain Finau at hal-time. In fairness the latter was carrying an injury into the match

  • 10:34
    No wait, the Maka household won't be divided. The host broadcaster has got the replacements wrong and Finau Maka is still on the pitch. Continuing the familial theme Ben Franks joins his brother Owen in the All Blacks front row as he replaces Tony Woodcock.
  • 10:38
    Unusually for a Tongan, fullback Vungakoto Lilo doesn't appear to like contact as he loses possession rather tamely in the tackle. The All Blacks aren't commiting any numbers to the rucks. Tonga's attacking gambits can best be likened to a crowd waiting to get into a concert.
  • 10:43
    That's better from Tonga, playing with more depth and width behind the scrum. Uh, oh tempting fate as they give up possession. New Zealand might have scored a try three times over but brilliant and traditionally abrasive Tongan defence somehow manages to avert the danger. Sonny Bill consumed by a bit of white line fever.   
  • 10:45
    Sonny Bill Williams replaces his jersey and the sight of his torso raises decibel levels appreciably. It probably sums up the last couple of minutes as the game is pockmarked by errors.
  • 10:48
    54 mins: A Tongan turnover, Ma'a Nonu gets the ball wide to Toeava but the wing's foot brushes the touchline a nanosecond before he grounds the ball. No try. Tonga deserve credit for a much improved display in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
  • 10:51
    It will be interesting to see if New Zealand coach Graham Henry reacts to his side's clumsy start to the start half. The intensity and accuracy has gone from the home side.
  • 10:55
    58 mins: Jerome Kaino scores a try but it's down to Kahui, who chips, collects and offloads to his supporting team-mate. Great individual skill. Carter misses the conversion. It's been symptomatic of the ho-hum performance from the home side since the interval.  
  • 11:01
    Great hit by Tongan replacement prop Sona Tamalolo on Carter. A nation holds its breath as the outhalf gingerly gets to his feet. Tamalolo regathers the ball and Tonga sweep into the New Zealand 22. They get a penalty and run it. There a couple of metres from the home side's line. Clancy eventually signals a scrum to the attacking side.
  • 11:05
    New Zealand twice penalised at a scrum. Every neutral wants to see the Tongans rewarded with a try. They deserve it for their second half efforts. Eden Park is very quiet at the moment. Clancy twice resets the scrum. This is going to be a hair-trigger call on which team is doing the collapsing. Four and a half minutes for this series of scrums. Yawn. Now he's given a free kick against New Zealand. Oh great, another scrum.
  • 11:09
    71 mins: Tamalolo try. Absolutely brilliant for Tonga and no more than the replacement prop deserves. He started this period of pressure with his thumping hit on Carter has finished it following a concerted period of pressure on the All Blacks' line. Morath converts. Tonga have now outscored their hosts by two point in the second half
  • 11:12
    Carter has been taken off and Colin Slade is on as Henry decides with six minutes remain to take off his star player.
  • 11:15
    76 mins: Nonu try. All Blacks attack the short side, good interplay between Slade and Nonu. The replacement outhalf converts but the score has been against the run of play in the second half.
  • 11:15
    Paul Gleeson Its hard to judge from reading the how the match is going....but it seems Dan Carter is struggling to really play to his best.
  • 11:17

    He didn't have much of a platform in the second half, Paul but he's been part of what the home media will describe as a substandard performance.

  • 11:21

    The opening match is over and New Zealand have won with a bonus point but it's far from a convincing performance. Tonga deserve massive credit for the manner in which they played in the second half. Coach Isitolo Maka made three changes at that point, including Sona Tamalolo, that made a huge difference and especially the latter.  

  • 11:22
    Eoin The pressure the All Blacks are going to come under from the media and home support as a result of a pretty poor second half is going to be immense.. Hard to know if they're playing this game tactically with an eye to the rest of the tournament or if the occasion is getting to them.
  • 11:25

    Might be a little bit of both Eoin. Richie McCaw's face before the match betrayed a great deal of tension. There's no doubt that they're feeling some pressure but their first half points haul should have allowed them to settle and kick on. Instead they dropped their intensity levels, lacked accuracy and seem to regard the match as a series of training drills.

  • 11:28

    Not quite the curtain call that many expected for the All Blacks. That's all from us for this morning.

  • 11:31
    Alisona Taumalolo celebrates his try as Tonga made life uncomfortable for the All Blacks in the second half. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
    Alisona Taumalolo celebrates his try as Tonga made life uncomfortable for the All Blacks in the second half. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho