This sloppy, inaccurate display Friday – full of uncharacteristic errors – was far from a vintage All Blacks performance, however, and the defending champions are still to discover their fluency two weeks into the tournament.
An almost full-strength New Zealand was expected to put away a weakened Georgia lineup with ease and they scored four tries inside 22 minutes to secure the bonus point, the first try coming from fit-again winger Waisake Naholo after just 72 seconds.
But from then on, it was mistake after mistake by the All Blacks, with star flyhalf Dan Carter particularly culpable. There were some jeers inside Millennium Stadium when Ben Smith kicked to touch to end the game, and the celebrations were muted.
New Zealand 43 Georgia 10, match report: Unconvincing All Blacks forced to work hard for their victory (Reuters)
Made to work hard for a 26-16 win over Argentina and then frustrated by Namibia in a 58-14 victory last week, the All Blacks wanted to find some fluency in their first ever test against Georgia. It didn’t happen.
“Maybe we were trying too hard, ” said New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, who hobbled off late in the second half.
New Zealand’s Julian Savea scores their third try (Reuter
They turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, mostly through sloppy handling. Carter only kicked four of his conversions and shook his head near the end after missing touch from a penalty. Georgia had the better of the scrum. And the fifth-minute try New Zealand conceded was sloppy, with some players virtually stopping as they thought there had been a knock-on.
Georgia fullback Beka Tsiklauri kicked forward from just inside the All Blacks half, collected the ball, and started celebrating 10 meters before he’d reached the line.