10 Oct 2015

Pass mark for All Blacks

12:56 pm on 10 October 2015

The All Blacks have gone some way to putting their fans at ease, after offering a glimpse of what they're capable of in their win over Tonga in Newcastle.

It was a scintillating performance from the reigning World Cup holders in the final 30 minutes after another slow start in the match, and it served as a reminder of what this side can do when everything comes off.

The New Zealanders scored seven tries to none, with first-five Dan Carter converting six from seven while looking handy with both ball in hand and on defence.

Dan Carter lines up a conversion as Richie McCaw looks on during the All Blacks v Tonga Rugby World Cup 2015 match. St James' Park in Newcastle. UK. Friday 9 October 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz

Dan Carter lines up a conversion against Tonga, as Richie McCaw looks on at Newcastle Photo: Photosport

However coach Steve Hansen isn't getting too excited. Hansen knows from his previous experience at World Cups that form in the pool stage won't count for much when they play their quarter-final in Cardiff next weekend.

"How you play at the moment means nothing," he told reporters after the match.

"We beat Italy by 60 points in Marseilles (in 2007) and got knocked out in the quarter-finals.

"Whatever has happened in the last month or so is irrelevant now, it's what we turn up with in the Millennium Stadium next weekend that will determine how far we go. We're excited about that, really excited."

What will be pleasing for Hansen is the form of Nehe Milner-Skudder, who won man of the match after scoring two tries and looks to have cemented his place in the starting line-up ahead of Waisake Naholo.

Nehe Milner-Skudder after his try from Beauden Barrett's kick during the All Blacks win over Tonga at Rugby World Cup 2015, St James' Park in Newcastle. UK. Friday 9 October 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz

Nehe Milner-Skudder after scoring his second try from a Beauden Barrett kick Photo: Photosport

But Hansen says there's still competition for places on the wing.

"There's a battle between all of them, Jules (Julian Savea) as well," he said.

"Nothing's guaranteed for anybody, but Nehe played particularly well. He scored some nice tries and was involved in some good play."

The All Blacks were hit with some bad news with the prop Tony Woodcock suffering a hamstring injury, and his prospects of playing again in the tournament are uncertain.

Hansen said the prop would be assessed in the morning, but suggested it could spell the end of his All Blacks career.

The team now transfers to Swansea, where they'll be based in the lead-up to their quarter-final next weekend.

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