All black for Irish as Kiwis run riot

 

New Zealand 60 Ireland 0:The 17th test of Ireland’s 51-week season proved a bridge too far, all the more so without their half dozen injured Lions. The cracks started appearing almost from the off and stung by the anticipated ‘Blacklash,’ the weary Irish team were like a boxer hit in the solar plexus in the first round.

Indeed, this was 1992 revisited in many respects, when the All Blacks followed up their 24-21 win in the first test in Dunedin with a 59-6 win in the second.

Similarly, last week’s three-point win was followed up with a nine tries to nil mauling which eclipsed that record losing margin. To pile on further embarrassment, for all Ireland’s positive intentions, they also failed to register a point for the first time since the 16-0 defeat in Argentina seven years ago.

The All Blacks were every bit as ruthless here, Richie McCaw leading the way from the front with typical aggression in the opening quarter and his successor-in-waiting Sam Cane giving a glimpse of the stellar career which may follow with an all-action full debut.

This was a caning pure and simple, the All Blacks’ backline smoothly and seamlessly working off Aaron Smith’s quick-fire and lengthy passing, whether with Aaron Cruden at out-half or his replacement Beauden Barrett on debut, and offloading with ease against a passive Irish defence.

There was an ominous portent of things to come virtually from the off. The All Blacks were way more aggressive in contact, in their fast-up defensive line speed and in their counter-rucking; all of which seemed almost to catch Ireland like the proverbial rabbits in headlights.

Ironically the Irish restarts were better, the problem being that they were getting plenty of practice, for had the bonus points system been in place, the All Blacks would have had one by the 23rd minute.

It’s easy from the cheap seats, but Ireland’s line speed in defence, by comparison, was far too passive, especially in midfield, where Paddy Wallace was cruelly exposed to a pace he wouldn’t have encountered all season after having his family holiday in Portugal interrupted. Jamie Heaslip was also a huge loss, but the fault lines for this horror show went way deeper than that.

Ireland were already on the back foot inside their own 22 when the All Blacks struck in the seventh minute through local boy Cane on his full debut. Admittedly Sonny Bill Williams’ offload to Conrad Smith went to ground and clearly forward, but both Poite and his countrymen cum assistant, Pascal Gauzere, missed it, before Cruden popped the ball out of the tackle for Cane, his Chiefs’ teammate, to dive over.

The next try arrived within five minutes. Cruden took scrum ball hard to the gain line, dummied inside to blindside winger Hosea Gear, but then straightened through and popped the ball as he was hitting the deck from Jonny Sexton’s tackle.

Williams cruised past Fergus McFadden, with Wallace and the Irish back-row out of the game. The pair worked another 10-12 Chiefs ploy for the third when Williams cut back through Wallace and Dan Tuohy to score a simple, soft try.

Ireland tried to crank it up, Rory Best making a clean line break from O’Driscoll’s delicious inside pass as finally he located one of his teammates, but when Wallace sought to work a switch with his captain the pass was too hard. Cruden pounced on the loose ball and with his last act popped the ball to Conrad Smith; his transfer putting Ben Smith over in the corner.

Kearney made another clean break from Earls’ inside ball but when Ireland opted for the scrum off the penalty Aaron Smith pilfered the ball at the base. Donnacha Ryan also showed good footwork in straightening through, but although Best held on to his offload, there weren’t enough numbers to prevent the turnover.

And the half ended with Kearney sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, the All Blacks settling for a touchline penalty by debutant Beauden Barrett and a 29-0 interval lead.

It soon got worse. Hosea Gear countered off a Conor Murray box kick, and from a ruck 25 metres in front of the posts, Aaron Smith put Liam Messam through with a beautifully delayed pass and was on hand to gather and offload in turn to put Cane over under the posts.

Cane soon pounced on a Rory Best overthrow for the All Blacks to go wide, Conrad Smith putting Gear away and the hulking winger slowed down to shunt off the covering Keith Earls with what was a shoulder/forearm fend to score and leave the Irish winger briefly dazed and bloody.

Cane then took a sharp inside line as Peter O’Mahony hung too far behind Chris Henry and straightened to put Messam over, thereby equalling the 53-point margin of 1992, before Israel Dagg scored off Williams’ delightful grubber.

Scoring sequence:7 mins Cane try, Cruden con 7-0; 12: Williams try, Cruden, con 14-0; 19: Williams try, Dagg con, 21-0; 23: B Smith try 26-0; 40 (+3): Barrett pen 29-0. Half-time: 29-0). 44: Cane try, Barrett con, 36-0; 50: Gear try 41-0; 58: Messam try, 46-0; 62: Dagg try, Barrett con, 63-0; 73: Thomson try, Barrett con 60-0.

New Zealand:I Dagg (Canterbury Crusaders); B Smith (Otago Highlanders), C Smith (Wellington Hurricanes), S B Williams (Waikato Chiefs), H Gear (Otago Highlanders); A Cruden (Waikato Chiefs), A Smith (Otago Highlanders); T Woodcock (Auckland Blues), A Hore (Otago Highlanders), O Franks (Canterbury Crusaders); L Romano (Canterbury Crusaders), S Whitelock (Canterbury Crusaders); L Messam (Waikato Chiefs), S Cane (Waikato Chiefs), R McCaw (Canterbury Crusaders, capt).

Replacements:B Barrett (Wellington Hurricanes) for Cruden (24 mins), K Mealamu (Auckland Blues) for Hore (half-time), B Retallick (Waikato Chiefs) for Whitelock (57 mins), P Weepu (Auckland Blues) for A Smith, T Ellison (Otago Highlanders) for C Smith (both 61 mins), A Thomson (Otago Highlanders) for Cane (70 mins), B Franks (Canterbury Crusaders) for Woodcock (74 mins).

I reland:R Kearney (UCD – Leinster); F McFadden (Old Belvedere – Leinster), B O’Driscoll (UCD – Leinster, Capt), P Wallace (Ballymena – Ulster), K Earls (Young Munster – Munster); J Sexton (St.Mary’s College – Leinster), C Murray (Garryowen – Munster); C Healy (Clontarf – Leinster), R Best (Banbridge – Ulster), M Ross (Clontarf – Leinster), D Tuohy (Ballymena – Ulster), D Ryan (Shannon – Munster), K McLaughlin (St.Mary’s College – Leinster), S O’Brien (Clontarf – Leinster), P O’Mahony (Cork Constitution – Munster).

Replacements:A Trimble (Ballymena – Ulster) for Earls (49-55 and 64mins), C Henry (Belfast Harlequins – Ulster) for McLaughlin, R O’Gara (Cork Constitution – Munster) for Wallace (both 55 mins), E Reddan (Lansdowne – Leinster) for Murray (59 mins), D O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution – Munster) for Tuohy (56 mins), D Fitzpatrick (Dungannon – Ulster) for Ross (60 mins), S Cronin (St.Mary’s College – Leinster) for Best (68 mins).

Referee:Romain Poite (France).

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