LYON, France - New Zealand have laid down a marker for the remainder of the Rugby World Cup following their superb 96-17 victory over Italy in Pool A on Friday, with coach Ian Foster saying his team had set the standard that they now need to maintain.
The All Blacks ran in 14 tries as they overwhelmed Italy to move into second place in the group with 10 points, and on course for a quarter-final place with a game against Uruguay to come on Thursday next week.
"We came here expecting to play well with a good build-up to it," Foster said. "We knew the importance of the game and that this is what World Cups are about. We delivered, so I am pleased with that.
"It's about building momentum at this World Cup and that was a marker we put down."
Foster had praise for second row Sam Whitelock, who won a record-breaking 149th cap for New Zealand.
"To stand alone at the top for appearances for this team is pretty special. He deserves it," the coach said. "He's been a warrior for a long, long time and continues to do that job."
Captain Ardie Savea said his side came out to make a statement to the rest of the World Cup field.
"To put that effort in, I am very proud," he said. "We have got talent across the board, we played some free rugby and that is how I want my boys to play. We put a lot into this week and we got the reward tonight.
"We wanted to come out and make a statement. We wanted to dominate up front. Our forwards had the platform and the backs finished it off.
"It was really good but we are never satisfied, never comfortable. There are little areas to get better. It was a final for us, it was a do-or-die game. We have got to play like this every weekend." REUTERS