New Zealand have belted Papua New Guinea 48-6 in a game that really tied off a lot of lose ends in this World Cup.
Many were looking at this contest as a marker towards how England will fare tomorrow night against Australia, and the signs were not good for Pommy fans.
While PNG didn’t play as well as they did last week, they were simply not allowed to play well by a very good New Zealand defense who’s mobility and work rate is very impressive.
New Zealand had a few questions answered in this game.
They must play Isaac Luke as their starting hooker from now on. He should have been in there from game one and when he came on against PNG he was unstoppable. Benji Marshall needs to play halfback as Thomas Leuluai just isn’t up to the task.
Krisnan Inu also showed a touch of class and you would think he’ll move to fullback, where he is badly needed, what Steve Matai comes back from suspension.
New Zealand looked a lot more relaxed in this contest than they did in their first game against Australia. They still played with a lot of control, but they were willing to try a few things rather than just grind the game out.
If New Zealand want to win this World Cup they really need Marshall to take control of the team. He showed is is ready to do it, but it won’t happen until he is playing at halfback.
While many British fans don’t rate this Kiwi side at all, those in the know see all the right building blocks in place. They have mobility and endurance, something previous Kiwi sides have not had.
If they had a game breaking forward like Frank Prichard available, it would have been a major boost. You have to wonder what might have been with him there.
With this win New Zealand will now have one eye on a semi final spot they have all but clinched against England. It makes their game against England next week just about a dead rubber.
It will be interesting to see how both teams handle such a game. You don’t want to show too much in the first contest and see your game plan negated in the semi final. Then again, against Tony Smiths coaching, I guess New Zealand don’t have to worry about coaching master classes from the English opposition.