Coles double helps All Blacks past stubborn Italy

Dane Coles and Asafo Aumua scored a brace of tries each to help New Zealand claim victory over Italy despite turning in an error-filled performance in Rome on Saturday.

Coles took his tally to 20 tries in 79 Tests against a disciplined Azzurri, who made the visitors work hard until the final quarter in Rome.

“Italy have to take a lot credit for the way they played, they put us under a lot of pressure,” Coles told Amazon Prime.

“Their kicking game was good as well, we dropped a lot of ball back there. We had to work bloody hard,” he added.

Flanker Michele Lamaro captained the hosts for the first time in Kiwi Kieran Crowley’s maiden game in charge.

Back-rower Sam Cane skippered the world No. 1 ranked team a year on from his last Test start.

Loose-forward Shannon Frizell returned to Ian Foster’s side for the first time since the 27-year-old had criminal charges against him dropped in September after an alleged assault at a nightclub.

Unlike their two previous matches, hammerings over the USA and Wales, the All Blacks failed to score early as the hosts controlled the opening 25 minutes by profiting on the away side’s knock-ons and lack of discipline at the breakdown.

Crowley’s men turned down two simple shots at goal before scrum-half Finlay Christie opened scoring for the visitors as the Scotland-born 26-year-old snuck over from an Italy scrum five metres from the home side’s tryline.

Foster’s men crossed again just after the half hour mark as the Hurricanes’ Coles rumbled to score from a rolling maul before Paolo Garbisi kicked a penalty.

Just before the break 34-year-old Coles claimed his second of the game as New Zealand equalled Argentina’s record of 92 Test tries in a year they reached in 2003.

In first half additional time Garbisi, who has scored 83 points in seven games for Montpellier this term, slotted another penalty to make it 21-6 at the interval.

The first points of the second half came from Garbisi’s boot as he kicked a penalty just before the hour mark.

Despite New Zealand’s slow start after the break the floodgates opened with 17 minutes to play.

Sevu Reece sidestepped to the whitewash to take the Pumas’ try record, Coles’ replacement Asafo Aumua claimed two tries, and No. 8 Hoskins Sotutu crossed unopposed.

Next week the All Blacks head to Ireland while Italy host Argentina.

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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