Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 17 (FT) as it happened

Catch all the action live as Nathan Johns takes you through Ireland’s tour opener

So it begins. It’s the morning rugby fans have been waiting for for some time now as Ireland’s tour of New Zealand finally gets underway. Granted, it’s not the main event of the three-Test series against the All Blacks, but a a stern test against the Maori All Blacks awaits for a group of Irish players many see as not a million miles away from the first team.

Nathan Johns to take you through all of this morning’s goings on in Waikato. Get in touch on Twitter (@nathanrjohns) to let us know your thoughts on proceedings, but until things get underway at 8.05am, let’s crack on with some build-up.


Right then, that’s that in terms of the blog for today. Plenty for Andy Farrell and co to sort out before Saturday, one can only hope the first teamers not playing today don’t fall foul to the same rust problems.

Stay tuned for Gerry Thornley’s match report. There will be plenty of reaction from Hamilton as well as player ratings too. Thanks for tuning in.


One to forget for Ireland. After a beyond poor first half littered with errors, ill-discipline, soft fringe defence and defensive breakdown work, there was at least a second half improvement in the close carries and defence.

The worst part of all though, even with the bad result, is that Ireland now have just one fit loosehead with Jeremy Loughman and Cian Healy suffering injuries. Andy Farrell has to call up at least one player, if not two if he doesn’t want to force Finlay Bealham into playing out of position again.

It’s hard to see how any of the Irish involved put their hand up for Test involvement tonight. Perhaps Larmour given his good defensive and aerial work, but apart from that positives are few and far between.

Better off getting that performance out of the system now than on Saturday, but as I said it is hard to see how many will be force their way into the Test squad after today.


Full-time: Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 17


79 mins: Ireland get a late penalty inside the Maori half but Frawley kicks it dead. Conan is on for some dead time, no surprise to see him largely held in reserve for Saturday.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 17


78 mins: Casey is caught narrow in the defensive line but gets away with it as his speed allows him to catch up to Harmon and block his attempted kick. A penalty comes against Harmon for throwing the ball at Casey.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 17


77 mins: Sullivan has just pulled off a ridiculous piece of skill to keep Frawley’s kick in field after making the mistake initially to try and play it with his weight taking him over the touchline.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 17


76 mins: Bizarre. It’s scrappy ball out the back of a scrum the Maori were on top in. Love has no idea where to go so he tries the drop from 15m out but pushes it wide.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 17


74 mins: Ruben Love is on the park but he’s hit the post with his first kick! Ireland recover but the line speed smashes Frawley back behind the gain line. The penalty then comes as Ireland in a panic enter the ruck through the side.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 17


72 mins: Fast hands beat the rush defence of Larmour as the Maori make ground up towards the 22. Another offside advantage comes and they go back to it after a forward pass. In a somewhat surprising move, they’re going to take the kick.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 17


70 mins: Interesting to see Bealham come on and scrum at loosehead even though it’s not his primary gig. Regardless, the Maori attack as Thompson pumps the leg to carry over the Ireland 10m line. McCarthy does well to earn the turnover but he spills while trying to secure the ball.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 17


Healy limps off unable to put any weight at all on that right foot. Whatever about the result, loosehead is probably the position Ireland have the least depth with and as things stand, it looks like Andrew Porter is the only fit player they have in that position on tour.


69 mins: Better from Ireland as they break from deep with Larmour stepping in off his right. They’re looking threatening with Frawley feeding Aki down the left but a spill ends the attack.

Far more importantly for the Test matches, Cian Healy is down in agony clutching his ankle. With him and Loughman injured, Ireland are in serious trouble at loosehead. Josh Wycherley can definitely start packing.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 17


68 mins: TRY GAVIN COOMBES! Ireland finally score in this second half as the Munster backrow forces his way over from close range off the tap penalty. Frawley converts from just out to the left.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 17


67 mins: Ireland keep the ball in the forwards and inch their way forward until Coombes is held up. Advantage was being played and the Maori are on a warning.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


66 mins: Another spill as Carbery drops Frawley’s pass out the back with numbers out wide. Fortunately for Ireland an advantage was being played and the ball is kicked to the corner.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


64 mins: That’s better from O’Toole. He definitely has the better of Williams the replacement as this time he wins the scrum penalty off him.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


63 mins: This game is starting to develop into a case of walking from scrum to scrum. Ioane drops a ball behind his forward pod before Larmour then spills when trying to scoop quickly with a lot of space in front of him.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


62 mins: O’Toole gets a shove on at the scrum but Casey decides to play instead of leaving it in. Carbery finds touch with a sliced effort off the left but the ball was carried back into the 22.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


61 mins: Now Dickson spills the ball inside the Irish 22 as both sides continue to rack up the errors.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


Joey Carbery has come onto the field at fullback, O’Brien departs.


60 mins: Wow. Prendergast’s audacious offload to avoid going in touch somehow finds Timoney. Frawley then nearly picks out Larmour with a pin-point cross-kick in space but out of nowhere comes Garden-Bachop to pluck the ball out of the sky. He has open road in front of him but Ireland scramble well, albeit before failing to roll away.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


57 mins: The Maori offloading game nearly works a treat as Stevenson and Garden-Bachop link up down the right, only for the last pass to Perenara to hit the deck. Impressive skillset which has been a stark contrast to Ireland.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


56 mins: Ireland force an exit off the Maori scrum but an offside from Casey lets them off the hook. Discipline continues to be a killer.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


55 mins: Ireland make some ground through McCarthy around the fringes but then O’Toole spills at the bottom of the ruck with plenty of black jerseys disrupting the ball.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


53 mins: The Maori’s backfield coverage is poor and O’Brien nearly makes them pay with a 50:22. Sullivan clears and Ireland do get the lineout outside the 22.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


51 mins: Stevenson launches the offload deftly to Lomax, might have been forward but lovely skill nonetheless. The error does then come then with a spill at the base of the ruck. Heffernan and Treadwell are off as Scannell and Baird enter the fray.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


50 mins: TJ Perenara is on as Brad Weber departs for the Maori. The injury news gets worse for Ireland as James Hume limps off with what looks like a foot injury. Lowry is on for him.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


49 mins: Frawley goes to the cross-kick for Larmour to chase but it’s just inches too long as Ioane gathers under pressure and calls the mark.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


48 mins: No try! Timoney had the ball on the ground but it was short of the line. Then the defence came through and held him up as momentum took him over the line.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


TMO time! Barnes thinks the ball is held up but he wants to see if there was an initial grounding.


47 mins: Coombes busts well off the kick return but his offload to Timoney is low and the Ulsterman can only hack it forward. Larmour takes a high ball well under pressure as Ireland run it back into the 22, Frawley throwing a good pass to Earls to take play close.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


46 mins: Held up! Heffernan, Coombes and then Prendergast go close off the back of the maul but the Connacht backrow is held up over the line. Goal-line drop to come.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


46 mins: Ioane clears off the scrum but it’s a poor effort. Ireland have a lineout still inside the 22.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


45 mins: Cian Healy is over the line but Barnes says theer is no grounding. Back we go for another offside penalty. Heffernan taps but spills just before contact. Sums up Ireland’s day so far.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


43 mins: Ireland tap and go inside the 22 and get another offside decision their way. They’ll tap again.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


42 mins: Aki charges down a clearance, Lomax spills and then the Maori fail to roll away. It’s worth mentioning that Loughman has not reemerged from the sheds. Anyone have Josh Wycherley’s number?

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


41 mins: Back underway then and it’s nearly a disaster start to the half for Casey. His clearance is sliced badly but fortunately for him a Maori hand touches it before it flies into touch still in the Ireland 22.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


Discipline has been a major issue too. A real stand up and be counted moment for this Irish squad now after the break.



This is a rusty, error-laden performance from Ireland and they have been made to pay. Their main issue has been an inability to hold onto the ball. Offloads to teammates not looking for the ball haven’t stuck, while handling errors just generally have been prevalent, making it tough to recall an attack that lasted longer than a handful of phases.

Off turnover ball the Maori have been devastating in transition attack, particularly through Stevenson. Sullivan has also had acres of space behind decoys to pick gaps while his left boot has been a strong weapon in putting his side into good attacking positions.


Half-time: Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


40 mins: TRY CULLEN GRACE! It ends up coming from nothing. Messy ball, kick-tennis but then Stevenson puts in a big left foot step to break from deep. His pass to the support man Harmon hits the deck but he waits for it to bounce up before feeding one of the many support runners on the inside for the score. Ioane converts to take us to half-time.

Maori All Blacks 32 Ireland 10


38 mins: Messy ball from Ireland as Treadwell throws an offload that wasn’t expected. Loughman shins it forward but in the scramble for the ball it is knocked on off a green hand.

Maori All Blacks 25 Ireland 10


36 mins: Ioane converts from in front of the posts.

Maori All Blacks 25 Ireland 10


35 mins: Try Brad Weber! Their ruck speed is just too fast to live with. The interplay between Ioane and his forwards is good off quick ball, and with Ireland scrambling close to their line Weber spots a gap and darts over from the ruck.

Maori All Blacks 23 Ireland 10


34 mins: Treadwell fails to roll away and the Maori kick to the corner. A free-kick for not keeping the lineout gap is taken quickly. Ioane’s fast hands nearly put Proctor in but O’Brien scrambles well.

Maori All Blacks 18 Ireland 10


33 mins: The Maori get a shove on at the scrum, forcing the ball out the back to roll into touch. Ireland need to hold on here and they do as Poihipi spills on first phase.

Maori All Blacks 18 Ireland 10


33 mins: The Maori continue to be devastating in transition. Casey initially does well to make a break with a snipe around the fringes, but when the ball is lost a few phases later Stevenson chips into space again. He looks for all money to be first to the ball but a diving Casey does enough to take it out of his reach before Weber knocks on.

Maori All Blacks 18 Ireland 10


31 mins: O’Brien runs back a clearance from Sullivan. He was trying to find grass inside the 22 but the bounce doesn’t go his way as it skips into touch.

Maori All Blacks 18 Ireland 10


29 mins: One ball out the back gives Ioane enough space to get on the outside of Aki and he has the gas to get away. Sprinting away into Irish territory, he draws last man Earls before putting Stevenson away in the corner. Brilliant try. Ioane then converts the score from out wide.

Maori All Blacks 18 Ireland 10




28 mins: Larmour flies up on the restart and makes his second good defensive contribution of the day. Ireland go quick off a lineout as Sullivan clears. The Maori fullback then beats opposite number O’Brien in the air to take a tricky high ball.

Maori All Blacks 11 Ireland 10


28 mins: Ioane resets the radar from 40m out, this time raising the flags to put the Maori back in the lead.

Maori All Blacks 11 Ireland 10


26 mins: Bundee Aki gives away his second breakdown penalty of the day. Discipline proving to be a real issue at the moment for Ireland.

Maori All Blacks 8 Ireland 10


25 mins: That’s a bad miss from Ioane as he’s pulled that one well out to the left.

Maori All Blacks 8 Ireland 10


23 mins: Twice in that attack Ireland are caught offside. They’re not working hard enough to get back behind that line at the minute as their line speed is too fast for Barnes’ liking. Ioane will have a shot from a central position just outside the 22.

Maori All Blacks 8 Ireland 10


21 mins: A good set-piece effort from Ireland but that was poor defence from the Maori. Two players needlessly bite in on Coombes - credit to him for drawing them - running hard down the 10 channel. No one bites in to cover Aki in turn as he picks a line off the shoulder and bursts through the gap and under the posts. Frawley converts.

Maori All Blacks 8 Ireland 10




19 mins: Off the scrum in their own 22, the Maori work an exit via Sullivan. Ireland lineout just outside the 22.

Maori All Blacks 8 Ireland 3


18 mins: Frawley’s restart is excellent as Treadwell bats it back. Coombes makes ground before O’Brien’s late angle breaks the line before the offload puts Loughman into the 22. Frawley’s kick wide lands in the 22 but the bounce back is just out of the reach of Larmour as he can’t hang on with the line at his mercy. Big chance.

Maori All Blacks 8 Ireland 3


17 mins: TRY MAORI ALL BLACKS! The man who got them the platform with the 50:22 is the one to get the score! A simple change of direction from Weber at the breakdown catches Ireland down the short side. Ioane straightens to take out two defenders and after a quick recycle, there isn’t enough cover to stop Sullivan from crashing over. Ioane misses the conversion from out wide.

Maori All Blacks 8 Ireland 3


15 mins: Wow. O’Brien’s kick off the scrum is neither contestable nor finds grass and Sullivan punishes him, pinging a perfect 50:22 in behind Ireland’s cover.

Maori All Blacks 3 Ireland 3


14 mins: Two good pieces of news for Ireland. Loughman has passed his HIA and is back on as the Maori make a mess of their lineout and give away the scrum. Not for the first time today, Joe McCarthy looks like he’s having a contact lens issue.

Maori All Blacks 3 Ireland 3


13 mins: Conditions beginning to tell here as now the Maori spill in contact. Casey’s box is a good one for Earls to contest but Stevenson claims under pressure. Prendergast gives away the penalty for putting his hands where they shouldn’t on the deck.

Maori All Blacks 3 Ireland 3


12 mins: Prendergast tries to throw an offload to Healy but the prop was already in ruck-clearing mode as it rebounds off his body forward. Ireland struggling to hold onto possession at the moment.

Maori All Blacks 3 Ireland 3


11 mins: Prendergast is beaten at the jump at the front of the lineout and the Maori attack once more inside the Ireland half. Larmour comes flying up out of the line to force a quick pass and he gets the reward when his pressure forces a forward pass. He’s hurt his shoulder in the process but looks like it’s just a stinger.

Maori All Blacks 3 Ireland 3


10 mins: The Maori continue to kick in behind but this effort from Sullivan is too heavy for any of his chasers. Ireland lineout inside their own 22.

Maori All Blacks 3 Ireland 3


9 mins: Ireland get caught a touch narrow as Stevenson gets space out wide after Garden-Bachop made the initial bust. He kicks in behind but O’Brien is positioned well before he finds a decent touch with his clearing left boot.

Maori All Blacks 3 Ireland 3


8 mins: It’s an easy kick inside the 22 and the two sides are level again.

Maori All Blacks 3 Ireland 3


6 mins: The Maori have broken into the 22 as Weber spots a mismatch down the short side, sending Stevenson running at the much slower McCarthy. Ireland fail to roll away at the breakdown and Josh Ioane will have an almost immediate chance to hit back off the tee.

Maori All Blacks 0 Ireland 3


5 mins: Ireland are on the board! Frawley slots that from the 10m line and just out to the right of the posts.

Maori All Blacks 0 Ireland 3


4 mins: First blood Ireland at the scrum. Lomax gets his feet too far behind him on the tighthead side and Barnes pings him once the scrum goes down. Frawley will have a shot here.

Maori All Blacks 0 Ireland 0


2 mins: Big first impact from Aki as he flies out of the line on first phase to put in a good shot on Proctor and force a spill. That was off a scrum where both sides actually managed to get a shove on. Frawley and Sullivan are involved in some afters but nothing too serious.

Maori All Blacks 0 Ireland 0


1 min: Sullivan goes to the air after a few Maori phases and O’Brien claims safely. Ireland immediatley go beind a forward pod as Hume finds half a gap with his first carry. Positive start for Ireland but then Larmour slips on the wet surface before the attack is stalled by a Loughman spill. It gets worse for the Munster prop as he looks like he has to go off for a HIA. Healy is on in his stead.

Maori All Blacks 0 Ireland 0


Right then nearly time to go. Wayne Barnes is the man in the middle for this one. Ciarán Frawley has the ball as the crowd counts us down, there goes the kick-off as Cian Prendergast makes the first tackle of the day on Proctor just outside the Maori 22.


Anthems and the haka are done. I have to say Bundee Aki looked particularly pumped up watching that. Understandably so. There’s also a nice touch from this Irish side as a green number 11 jersey is presented to the family of Sean Wainui, the former Chiefs wing who tragically died last October.


Mayo jerseys in the crowd. Classic.


Here come the two teams!



It’s cold and wet in Waikato. The first game of a long tour after a lot of travel, are we expecting some rust from Ireland?


What about the Maori then? As always with teams like this that don’t play regularly together, it’s tough to gauge what to expect. What we do know is that their halfback pairing of Brad Weber and Josh Ioane will be very dynamic. Shaun Stevenson provides plenty of finishing prowess out wide while their backrow brings some ball-carrying power, particularly in Crusaders number eight Cullen Grace.


Very proud moment for myself and my family. I’m a kid from South Auckland, not many opportunities come your way. I’m privileged to be here to be a part of this team and lead the boys out.

Of course, Bundee Aki captains Ireland in the first game he plays for his adopted nation in the country of his birth. Just to bring the full narrative full circle, the game today takes place at FMG Stadium Waikato, the home of Aki’s former Super Rugby franchise, the Chiefs. You can read his comments on the game here.


In terms of the Ireland team itself, it’s a who’s who of players not in the starting line-up during the Six Nations that fans have been crying out for to be involved. James Hume is definitely one to keep an eye on at outside centre since a fast, open game - likely given the style preferences of both sides - suits his footwork and ability to beat defenders.

Gavin Coombes returns from injury to finally get a start for Ireland as a reward for a stellar two years with Munster - he just has had no luck in the form of the two number eights ahead of him, Jack Conan and Caelan Doris.

Then in terms of the uncapped players, Jimmy O’Brien starts at fullback after a stellar campaign for Leinster, Ciarán Frawley is at outhalf, perhaps only due to a Harry Byrne niggle, Jeremy Loughman lines out at loosehead while big Joe McCarthy, heralded as someone with the size profile Ireland badly need at secondrow, lines out in the engine room. Connacht backrow Cian Prendergast is another who will garner plenty of eyeballs today.

Notably, Mike Lowry has recovered from a fractured cheekbone that ruled him out of the end of Ulster’s season to take a spot on the bench.


It’s been a bizarre tour in many ways. Covid has ravaged the All Blacks camp with players and coaches alike taken out of action. So far Ireland have been more fortunate in that just Mack Hansen - so far - has been known to test positive.

Iain Henderson is a non-Covid absentee as his knee injury has sent him on a flight home, depleting Ireland’s secondrow stocks.

What’s more, former Ireland boss Joe Schmidt is now pitching in inside the All Blacks camp and with head coach Ian Foster missing the first Test as one of those with Covid, how much responsibility does that give Schmidt against his old side?


Here are today’s teams:

Maori All Blacks: Zarn Sullivan; Shaun Stevenson, Billy Proctor, Rameka Poihipi, Connor Garden-Bachop; Josh Ioane, Brad Weber (co-capt); Ollie Norris, Kurt Eklund, Tyrel Lomax; Josh Dickson, Isaia Walker-Leawere; Cameron Suafoa, Billy Harmon, Cullen Grace.

Replacements: Tyrone Thompson, Tamaiti Williams, Jermaine Ainsley, Maanaki Selby-Rickit, TK Howden, TJ Perenara, Ruben Love, Bailyn Sullivan.

Ireland: Jimmy O’Brien; Jordan Larmour, James Hume, Bundee Aki (capt), Keith Earls; Ciarán Frawley, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman, Dave Heffernan, Tom O’Toole; Kieran Treadwell, Joe McCarthy; Cian Prendergast, Nick Timoney, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Michael Lowry.