'Ireland’s limited old carthorses never stood a chance’: the New Zealand press react
‘Abysmal’ Ireland see limited game plan brutally exposed by the All Blacks in Tokyo
And that’s all she wrote. Ireland’s 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign is over, after they were brutally picked apart by a ruthless All Blacks side in Tokyo on Saturday.
Joe Schmidt’s side barely had a moment to breathe during their 46-14 defeat - the defending champions delivering a performance which suggests it will take something pretty special to stop them from doing three-in-a-row.
While New Zealand were at their clinical, brilliant best in Tokyo, it is fair to say Ireland were far from theirs. Countless handling errors and poor kicking made life a lot easier for the Kiwis than it should have been.
But at the same time, even a faultless display from Ireland probably wouldn’t have been enough to stop an All Blacks side in this sort of devastating mood.
Steve Hansen’s side ran in seven tries in the end - Robbie Henshaw scored Ireland’s first points of the match with nearly 70 minutes on the clock.
For Ireland and incoming coach Andy Farrell, it’s time to lick their wounds and work out what went wrong. For the All Blacks, they can prepare for a colossal semi-final meeting with England next Saturday.
And in the New Zealand Herald, Gregor Paul writes that Saturday’s match showed two sides who were now worlds apart, after the All Blacks’ impressive evolution since their defeat in Dublin last year.
“New Zealand in the right mood as they so obviously were against Ireland can only be stopped by the miraculously brave and the fabulously inventive.
“Ireland were neither and so they were hit by this runaway train of an All Blacks side that has found itself at precisely the sort of time that is quite useful for teams to find themselves.”
And while he is gushing of the Kiwis, he is pretty damning of Schmidt’s side: “It was beyond impressive. It was at times almost bordering on perfect rugby - the marriage of speed, skill, physicality and imagination was intoxicating. A rugby drug if ever there was one.
“When they turn up with that difficult to strike balance of fire in the blood and ice in the brain, a team of limited old cart horses like Ireland never stood a chance.”
Liam Napier, also writing in the New Zealand Herald, has also been brutal in his assessment of Ireland’s performance, which brought the curtain crashing down on the Schmidt years.
“Try as they might, Ireland were abysmal. So much so that next week’s semi-final against England will be a significant step up. Eddie Jones will know so, too, are the All Blacks from the woeful Wallabies.
“Ireland dropped ball, kicked terribly to miss touch from penalties three times. They fell off tackles and made so many simple errors. Never has their limited gameplan been so brutally exposed. Never did they look capable of winning their first quarter-final, in their seventh attempt.”
And he is also to quick to praise the attacking transformation of the All Blacks over the past year - after failing to score a single try at the Aviva Stadium last November.
He writes: “Andy Farrell’s defensive blueprint rattled the All Blacks with the British and Irish Lions and with Ireland twice previously. Tonight his green wall came crumbling down as the All Blacks skipped to the edge with consummate ease. Seven tries to two is embarrassing.
“When the All Blacks are at their peak like this they do the basic skills better and faster than anyone. Their catch, pass, cleanout, ball protection, carry, tackle tonight were all supreme.”
The All Blacks were devastating and clinical with the ball in hand against Ireland, who couldn’t live with their lines of running and peerless offloading game.
But writing for Stuff.co.NZ, Marc Hinton suggests their victory in Tokyo was built on a defensive masterclass: “This match was well and truly decided by the All Blacks’ defence in that first 40. They made 74 of their 75 tackles. Mo’unga missed one - the rest of his team-mates were perfect. Sam Cane had 12, Joe Moody 11, Kieran Read nine. They were human stop signs.
“It was a commanding defensive display and the speed and intent with which that black line got up and knocked over anything in green had the northern side well and truly spooked. The Irish dropped ball, they misfired passes, they basically imploded with their time and space taken away.”
And now the New Zealand look ahead to a huge semi-final clash with England on Saturday, after Eddie Jones’s side made similarly light work of Australia - running out 40-16 winners in Oita.
They will be confident, as are the Kiwi press. Indeed, Napier writes: “Spare a thought for Schmidt, the former Palmerston North school teacher. He achieved many great feats for Ireland, including three Six Nations titles, but they are likely to be lost in the furore of another World Cup failure.
“Those preparing to twist the knife must surely appreciate he is unlikely to be the last opposition coach to suffer at this tournament.
“Eighteen World Cup games the All Blacks have now won in a row. England could be the next victims on that list.”
They’re going to be hard to beat.