Rui Cordeiro, take a bow. When Portugal's replacement prop, a vet who will be back at his day job at the abattoir after the World Cup, propelled his ample frame over the All Black line for a try early in the second half he achieved one of his side's principal ambitions. The other was to prevent New Zealand from registering a tournament- record score, and the Portuguese did that too.
The All Blacks ran in 16 tries – eight in each half – for the fourth highest score in World Cup finals. But Cordeiro's broad smile was mirrored on 40,000 faces at Stade Gerland as he carried the ball all the way to his own half after having histry confirmed by the television match official. He probably still has it.
Portugal's mainly amateur team survived unscathed while New Zealand "treated the game with dignity", as their head coach, Graham Henry, put it afterwards.
For 20 fumble-filled minutes the favourites managed only a 12-0 lead, from a couple tries by Joe Rokocoko. Then Goncalo Malheiro dropped a goal from the 10-metre line. New Zealand, however, had six tries between the 25th minute and half-time, mostly through speed of action. There were no collapsed scrums, but in that area and others the professionals went easy. They had to.
Cordeiro had his moment seven minutes after half-time, when Rokocoko knocked on and the Portuguese mounted half-a-dozen short and ultimately effective drives. Both benches were emptied and New Zealand collected tries almost as they pleased in the last quarter.
"Rugby has to evolve, and only by playing the best can the smaller teams evolve," said Tomaz Morais, the coach of Portugal. "It's an excellent day for rugby in Portugal and for rugby across the world."
A good day, indeed, for all creatures great and small.
New Zealand: M Muliaina; I Toeava, C Smith, A Mauger, J Rokocoko; N Evans, B Leonard; N Tialata,A Hore, G Somerville, C Jack, A Williams, J Collins (capt), S Lauaki, C Masoe. Replacements: L MacDonald for Muliaina, 6; C Hayman for Jack, 50; R So'oialo for Williams, 53; A Ellis for Leonard, 53; A Oliver for Hore, 56; T Woodcock for Somerville, 59; K Mealamu for Collins, 63.
Portugal: P Leal; A Aguilar, M Portela, D Mateus, P Carvalho; G Malheiro, L Pissarra; A Silva, JCorreia, R Spachuck, M d'Orey, G Uva, D Coutinho,V Uva (capt), P Murinello. Replacements: DPenalva for d'Orey, 26; R Cordeiro for Silva, 40; J Pinto for Pissarra, 40; D C Pinto for Malheiro, 40; T Girão for Coutinho, 43; J Uva for Murinello, 50; J Ferreira for V Uva, 53.
Referee: C White (England).Reuse content