MARSEILLE, France -- Tournament favorites New Zealand made a no-nonsense start to their World Cup campaign by snuffing out the challenge of Italy 76-14 in their opening Pool C encounter in Marseille.
Howlett's three scores made him New Zealand's joint top try scorer.
After the shock beginning to the event on Friday night, when hosts France were humbled by Argentina, the All Blacks quickly asserted themselves with five converted tries in the first 20 minutes.
The shattered Italians, who beat Scotland and Wales during a creditable Six nations tournament last season, were dead and buried.
Doug Howlett's three tries out of New Zealand's 11, put him level with Christian Cullen as his country's highest try scorer on 46.
Richie McCaw, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Jerry Collins notched two apiece. The other two came from Muls Miliaina and Chris Jack.
Dan Carter kicked 17 points and Luke McAlister six.
Italy managed a Marko Stanojevic intercept try and a late effort from Mirco Bergamasco.
The All Blacks were quick to add to the 272 points they had scored against Italy in four previous World Cup encounters.
In the second minute McCaw took a sharp inside pass from outstanding lock Ali Williams from the first line-out and streaked through from 20 meters.
McCaw crashed over for his second just minutes later after taking a blindside pass from Byron Kelleher.
Howlett finishing off a scintillating move started by Sivivatu and two Carter chips over a struggling Italian defense led to tries for Muliaina and Sivivatu to make it 38-0 to the All Blacks after 20 minutes.
Sivivatu claimed his second after Leon MacDonald had caught the Italians dozing and then Italy winger Stanojevic pounced on a loose pass by Kelleher for a try converted by Bortolussi to make it 43-7 at half-time.
Italy offered up slightly more resistance early in the second-half, but were soon on the receiving end of a second five-try routing over 20 minutes.
Jack opened the floodgates in the 50th minute. Howlett then completed his hat-trick in quick succession and Collins also scored a brace in two minutes.
Italy centre Mirco Bergamsco grabbed a late opportunist try back for Italy but it was scant consolation. E-mail to a friend