All Blacks power past Uruguay to reach RWC quarters

All Blacks perform Haka. Photo Courtesy/All Blacks.
New Zealand headed into the Rugby World Cup 2023 quarter-finals with Damian McKenzie inspiring the three-time winners to a comfortable 73-0 bonus-point victory over Uruguay at OL Stadium on Thursday. 
For the third match in succession the All Blacks put more than 50 points on their opponents, with McKenzie – starting at full-back for the first time since 2021 – at the heart of just about everything.

Uruguay did make the All Blacks work for it, particularly during a frenzied opening quarter during which somewhat bizarrely three tries in 16 minutes – two for New Zealand and one for Uruguay – were chalked off on review. But once McKenzie skipped in off the back of a scrum on the five-metre line, New Zealand proved irresistible. Richie Mo’unga was the next man in, again off the back of a close-range scrum, before McKenzie lit up the packed stadium by collecting his own chip on the touchline before keeping the ball in play with a one-handed pass to winger Will Jordan.

Scrum-half Cam Roigard secured the bonus point just before half-time. Maintaining the pace impressively after the break despite a flurry of substitutions, New Zealand ran in a further seven tries, with winger Leicester Fainga’anuku grabbing a second-half hat-trick. The All Blacks head to the knock-out stages with some serious momentum.

“I think it was a really enjoyable game, pretty free-flowing. Took us a long while to break Uruguay, they defended us really well and then we were able to put some points on the board so really proud of the win.”

McKenzie, the Mastercard Player of the Match, said: “We have got to where we want to be, we know we have to get better from this week and move on to the quarters whoever we play. We’re really excited for what’s to come.”

And about his eye-catching offload, he added: “I got pretty lucky to be honest, it bounced up to me and Will Jordan was on my inside to score the try. I’m glad that one bounced my way.”

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