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Four-try Muliaina for All Blacks

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Reuters) -- Mils Muliaina scored four tries as New Zealand recovered from a stumbling start to defeat Canada 68-6 in their World Cup pool D match on Friday.

Muliaina, playing on the right wing instead of his usual international place at fullback, scored his first try for his country in the first half and added the remainder after the interval.

Number eight Rodney So'oialo (2) and centre Maa Nonu also grabbed their first tries for the All Blacks.

Winger Caleb Ralph (2) and Kees Meeuws also crossed, with Meeuws' eighth international try equalling the world record for a prop.

Center Daniel Carter kicked nine conversions, but despite the ease of their victory, the All Blacks played well in patches only and had trouble executing their game plan as the Canadians continually frustrated them.

However, the All Blacks were also architects of their own inability to stamp their pattern on the game as they turned the ball over constantly either in the tackle or by forcing the pass.

"We lacked a little bit of rhythm, particularly in the first 30 minutes and that was conming through some of our own execution," said All Black coach John Mitchell. "We always expected a hard, physical work out."

Canada captain Ryan Banks said his side's plan had been to attack the All Blacks throughout the match.

"In the first half we did what we wanted to do and got into them," said Banks. "We didn't look at the scoreboard. We looked at the positives because we are getting ready for Italy and that is our next challenge."

Superb try

The All Blacks again scored some brilliant counter-attacking tries with the first coming from a turnover from inside their own 22 with Carlos Spencer receiving the ball from Leon MacDonald, chipping ahead, regathering then chipping ahead again for Ralph to outstrip Quentin Fyffe to the ball and dot down in the 18th minute.

They extended their lead when, after a superb cut by Nonu, and a desperate lunge by MacDonald, So'oialo spun off the back of a ruck to score his first international try.

Muliaina scored another breathtaking try after MacDonald broke out from inside his own half and chipped ahead for the Aucklander to score in the corner less than five minutes later.

The All Blacks then scored the try of the half as the Canadians turned the ball over, So'oialo sensing the space in midfield swung a wide pass to Carter who fed Spencer who then ran for 40 metres before flicking back inside to the Wellington number eight who ran unopposed from the 10-metre line to score under the posts.

Carter converted to give the All Blacks a bonus point and a 28-3 lead at halftime.

They continued the rout five minutes into the second half when Muliaina grabbed his second try after a superb inside flick pass by lock Brad Thorn before he outsprinted the cover defence five minutes later for his third.

Meeuws then grabbed his eighth international try and Muliaina snatched his fourth of the day.

Center Nonu competed the rout when he barged over after a quick tap penalty five minutes from time before lock Chris Jack received a yellow card for a late charge with three minutes remaining.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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