All Blacks coach Ian Foster was delighted with New Zealand’s first win of the World Cup on Friday but, such are the standards his team are held to, there were as many questions about discipline as tries after the 71-3 rout of Namibia.
Coming off successive defeats to South Africa and France in which the All Blacks forwards were overpowered at times, Foster was first and foremost happy with the platform the pack laid against a tough Namibia eight.
“We went out and clearly tried to establish ourselves up front, particularly,” Foster said.
“I thought we got that dominance pretty early, which was the key to the game and enabled us to pick and choose how we wanted to play after that.
“Obviously we’re delighted with the result and with the performance so that’s a step forward.”
Foster was rewarded for his selection by a fine performance from scrumhalf Cam Roigard, who scored two tries and made another on his first test start.
“He played really well, took his opportunities, it’s one thing to have good go-forward ball but it’s another to make good decisions,” the coach said.
Power wingers Caleb Clarke and Leicester Fainga’anuku both got on the scoresheet and flyhalf Damian McKenzie also crossed twice and converted eight of the 11 tries.
The evening was marred a little in the 72nd minute when prop Ethan de Groot was shown a yellow card for high contact which was upgraded to red after a TMO review.
Foster said it was “frustrating” and suggested the All Blacks would be looking to draw a comparison with the challenge committed by France’s Romain Taofifenua on Thursday, which drew a yellow card but was not upgraded to red.
“There’s obviously a lot of shoulder on shoulder involved in that contact,” he said, later adding: “People are searching for consistency at the moment, we’ll just have to see what happens.”
Even before that, though, it was not an entirely perfect night for all the brilliant attacking play. The scrum had a free kick awarded against it, they had a try chalked off for obstruction at a rolling maul and were penalised 12 times.
“It’s a good feeling getting the win tonight especially after last week’s result,” said stand-in captain Ardie Savea.
“In our defense, we gave a few penalties away and they got opportunities to drive. We want to eliminate those, we want to be ruthless in that area. Hey, out of all the positives, you can look at the negatives, but I’m very proud of the men.”
Savea wore a Namibia jersey to the post-match press conference and revealed that the two teams were having a drink with each other in the changing rooms.
“It goes back to the rugby values of smashing each other and having a beer after,” he said.