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All Blacks warm up for last eight test with Tonga win

New Zealand 47-9 Tonga

By Andy Newport

Published 10/10/2015

Over you go: Nehe Milner-Skudder scores the fourth try for the Kiwis at St James’ Park
Over you go: Nehe Milner-Skudder scores the fourth try for the Kiwis at St James’ Park

Ma'a Nonu celebrated his 100th New Zealand cap with a try as his side wrapped up a clean sweep of group-stage victories by thrashing Tonga in Newcastle.

Tries from Ben Smith and Tony Woodcock before a second-half double from Nehe Milner-Skudder handed the All Blacks their third successive bonus point at St James' Park.

Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Cane also crossed over before Nonu's special moment three minutes from time as the World Cup favourites eventually won by a convincing 47-9 margin.

Tonga could only register three Kurt Morath penalties, leaving the New Zealanders to top Pool C with a near-perfect tally of 19 points.

Steve Hansen's team had already booked a place in the quarter-finals - where they are set to face Ireland or France - but their displays had been far from slick. And for spells they were just as disjointed against the Pacific Islanders, but once they did get motoring they simply blew Tonga away.

The world champions ran out without inspirational captain Richie McCaw, who was wrapped in cotton wool - and left to carry the water bottles - after sustaining a slight hip strain.

But it was still largely a first-choice XV put out by Hansen, with centre Nonu joining an elite band of just six men who have reached a century of appearances for the All Blacks.

While New Zealand's place in the last eight was already guaranteed, the Tongans knew only an unlikely victory would salvage their chances of claiming third place in the group and automatic qualification to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

However, despite battling with a determination and ferocity, they could not upset the odds as New Zealand powered on to a routine victory.

The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Nonu as he raced down the left wing to cross the line for the seventh try.

New Zealand: Tries: B. Smith, Woodcock, Milner-Skudder 2, Williams, Cane, Nonu. Cons: Carter 6.

New Zealand: B. Smith, Milner-Skudder, C. Smith, Nonu, Naholo, Carter, A. Smith, Woodcock, Coles, O. Franks, Romano,

Whitelock, Kaino, Cane, Read. Replacements: Barrett for Naholo (68), Kerr-Barlow for A. Smith (76), Crockett for Woodcock (43), Mealamu for Coles (67), B. Franks for O. Franks (62), Retallick for Romano (50), Messam for Whitelock (68).

Not Used: Williams.

Sin Bin: Read (38).

Tonga: Pens: Morath 3.

Tonga: Lilo, Veainu, Piutau, Fosita, Vainikolo, Morath, Takulua, Tonga'uiha, Taione, Aulika, Lokotui, Tu'ineau, Kalamafoni, Latu, Ma'afu. Replacements: Helu for Veainu (70), Tahitu'a for Morath (63),

Fisilau for Takulua (70), Taumalolo for Tonga'uiha (56), Ngauamo for Taione (50), Puafisi for Aulika (70), Mafi for Tu'ineau (55), Ram for Ma'afu (69).

Sin Bin: Ngauamo (70).

Attendance: 50,985

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland).

Belfast Telegraph

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