New Zealand 108 Portugal 13: New Zealand happy to wallow in shallow end of pool

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The Independent Online

New Zealand are alone among the top contenders for the World Cup in that they have yet to break sweat. This 16-try canter against Portugal in Lyons on Saturday was more about glad-handing rugby's great unwashed than meaningful preparation for the knockout rounds. Scotland in Edinburgh on Sunday should be more of a test.

"We won't have had as tough a ride to the quarter-finals as other teams," said the All Black full-back Leon MacDonald, "but we're still happy with the rugby we have played."

There are problems in the second row, with Keith Robinson unavailable to face the Scots. In his and Reuben Thorne's absence, Chris Jack and Ali Williams have started both pool matches. Against the Portuguese Carl Hayman, a prop, played at lock and Keven Mealamu, a hooker, on the flank. It did not matter: Portugal delighted the crowd with a second-half try by the prop Rui Cordeiro but they were spared 40 or 50 points by the All Blacks knocking on and generally easing off, plus the unhurried goal-kicking of Nick Evans.

"It's like the Olympic Games," said Portugal's head coach, Tomaz Morais. "Some are here to be champions; others like us are here just to achieve a personal best."

Mils Muliaina, MacDonald's rival for the full-back shirt, strained a hamstring, which will be assessed in midweek.

New Zealand: Tries Rokocoko 2, Toeava, Williams, Mauger 2, Collins, Masoe, Hore, Leonard, Evans, Ellis, MacDonald, Smith 2, Hayman; Conversions Evans 14. Portugal: Try Cordeiro; Conversion DC Pinto; Penalty DC Pinto; Drop goal Malheiro.

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), C Masoe, S Lauaki. Replacements: L MacDonald for Muliaina, 6; A Ellis for Leonard, 53; T Woodcock for Somerville, 59; A Oliver for Hore, 56; C Hayman for Jack, 50; K Mealamu for Collins, 63; R So'oialo for Williams, 53.

Referee: C White (England).

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