All Blacks And The Eagles: 74-6

 Rugby has been a big winner here in Chicago. Commentator, Justin Marshall

A great display of running rugby

By Roger Childs

Eagles v ABsThey usually play American football at the Soldier Field in Chicago, but on Saturday it was rugby.

There was a full house of 61,000 and NBC ran the show live into over 100 million homes across the nation.

The All Blacks didn’t disappoint, and ran in 12 tries in a scintillating display of open rugby from which the gallant American Eagles will learn a great deal.

The New Zealanders were always going to win and they provided a great advertisement for a sport which will feature in the sevens format at the next Olympics.

Players back in black and a couple of new ones

Sonny Bill looked as though he had never been away and …Carter also seemed to pick up from where he left off – great goal kicking and… good confident running. Richard Belton, Christchurch rugby analyst.

Eagles game Read offloadsLeague, boxing, rugby; Sonny Bill Williams can do them all very well. He had a great game against the Eagles in his first rugby test for a couple of years, with powerful running, superb off-loads and two excellent tries.

Coming back after several months of intermittent injuries, Dan Carter is a player who needs game time. He will be keen to come out of this tour unscathed. Coming on for the last quarter there were a couple of passing errors early, but then the old assurance returned. He made two superb breaks and with Victor Vito, set up Julian Savea for his second try. Aaron Cruden had only a 50% record with his goal kicking; however Carter landed three out of three from wide out.

New hooker, Nathan Harris, looked very sharp in the first 10 minutes and scored an excellent try in the corner. However, shortly after, he suffered cruel luck, injured his ankle and had to leave the field.

New half back, All Black 1136, Augustine Pulu, played the last quarter and performed very well. He replaced T J Perenara who had had an excellent game, being quick to the breakdown and getting the backline away with crisp, accurate passing.

Plenty of encouraging performances

There were a number of impressive performances from players who took advantage of being in the run-on team.

  • Ryan Crotty hardly put a foot wrong at centre, tackling with venom and showing excellent judgment in setting up his outsides.
  • Jeremy Thrush had a great game in the forwards with solid work in the tight and effective tackling. He also got plenty of ball in the lineout, including one take near the line where he created a gap for Joe Moody to take his throw and crash over. It was a repeat of Tony Woodcock’s crucial try in the World Cup final.
  • Ealles game Cane scoresIsrael Dagg was impressive from  full back. He was quick to gather in ball which the Eagles kicked away, and on the counterattack, frequently ran the outside backs into scoring positions.
  • Sam Cane had a busy game in Richie McCaw’s openside flanker position. He ran and tackled well, and beat three players to score late in the game. (See  alongside.) However a skill he needs to refine, is an ability (like Richie’s) to wrest turnovers.
  • Charles Piutau defended well and ran strongly on the left wing and Corey Jane was equally effective on the right wing, until he had t o leave the field with a hamstring injury.

Got to be good for the game

We’ll learn a lot from this. Eagles captain, Todd Cleaver.

The Eagles never gave up trying and for much of the game tackled well and ran strongly when they had the ball. Unfortunately, when they made mistakes in dropping passes, falling off tackles and kicking good ball away, the All Blacks were ruthless in punishing them.

There is no question the Americans will improve and, although disappointed that they didn’t score a try, they were delighted to host the best team in the world, at a famous ground, in front of a capacity crowd.

The All Blacks now move on to Twickenham, where they will play the strong England team next weekend. The coaches will roll out the 1st XV for this crucial encounter.