Ireland thumped by All Blacks

 

New Zealand 42 Ireland 10:As feared, the newly crowned world champions are not only at peace with the world but also concocting another heady brew and, as also feared, Ireland were the first to be feasted upon.

Admittedly, they were pretty much served up on a silver platter as the All Blacks played at a tempo, intensity and a skill level that Ireland struggled to live with. The visitors actually played with plenty of positive intent yet found themselves 23-3 down by half-time (and 30-3 shortly afterwards) with the game already over.

Errors in communication defensively were compounded by an increasing passivity as the match wore on for one of the manifold differences between the sides. Another was the vastly swifter line speed which the All Blacks employed in defence; their aggressive blitz forcing several handling errors, most notably at the start of the second-half. All were culpable of failing to protect possession sufficiently, even uncharacteristically, Brian O’Driscoll and Sean O’Brien,

Ireland – though willing – looked a little stung amid yet more evidence of the psychological damage caused by over a century of beatings by New Zealand, many of them sizeable.It didn’t help a slightly ragged defensive effort either that at times Ireland over-committed to rucks, with the covering and tackling of the back-row, and especially Sean O’Brien, preventing further carnage.

The home side were eased into an 9-3 early lead by the master puppeteer, Dan Carter, who landed seven from eight for 17 point haul, after a few soft-ish penalties at the breakdown by Nigel Owens; one of two against O’Brien looked particularly harsh as he never left his feet.

The first telling blow was when Zac Guildford could drop but re-gather an over cooked Conor Murray box kick and feed Israel Dagg infield, five backs working back and cross-field for the counter. Conrad Smith worked a switch with Sonny Bill Williams who offloaded inside to Carter in trademark style for the outhalf to put Savea over.

Fergus McFadden had been lured infield for that counter, and outnumbered, was done again for Savea to hug the touchline from Dagg’s skip pass and take tackles by both Rob Kearney and Conor Murray to score.

Soon after the restart, Dagg put Savea over again after the Irish defence had again been easily outflanked off a midfield recycle from a lineout. Temporary reprieve came by way of Rory Best blocking Carter’s grubber kick, re-gathering for Peter O’Mahony to cleverly feed Jonathan Sexton. The outhalf’s superbly weighted kick enabled McFadden to outsprint McCaw and score.

When Kieran Read popped the ball off the deck after rumbling off a five mete scrum Adam Thomson flopped over having been denied a wondrous try off the preceding restart by a combination of Earls, Murray and O’Driscoll.

In his first game as head coach, and with his team long since in cruise control. Steve Hansen could afford to empty his bench by virtually the hour mark.

With the majority of the 43,300 also soon indulging in Mexican Waves, to be honest, 35-10 would have been something of a reprieve, although to complete Ireland’s woes Cian Healy was helped off with what seemed a nasty looking shoulder injury, and Keith Earls – one of the few bright sparks – went off with his right arm slung down by his side.

In any case after a scything break by Israel Dagg, who rediscovered his mojo, Aaron Crudon put Conrad Smith over for one of those walk-in tries he seems to sniff out so effortlessly, and 42-10 was a truer reflection of the class divide. Even then Rob Kearney had to chase down Carter to prevent another try in overtime: a long night in Auckland and a precursor to a long three weeks.

Scoring sequence:5 mins: Carter pen; 7: Sexton pen 3-3; 16: Carter pen 6-3; 18: Carter pen 9-3; 27: Savea try, Carter conversion 16-3; 38: Savea try, Carter conversion, 23-3. Half-time: 23-3. 44: Savea try, Carter conversion, 30-3; 51:McFadden try, Sexton conversion, 30-10; 56: Thomson try, 35-10; 79: C Smith try, Carter conversion, 42-10.

New Zealand:I Dagg (Canterbury Crusaders); Z Guildford (Canterbury Crusaders), C Smith (Wellington Hurricanes), S B Williams (Waikato Chiefs), J Savea (Wellington Hurricanes); D Carter (Canterbury Crusaders), A Smith (Otago Highlanders); T Woodcock (Auckland Blues), A Hore (Otago Highlanders), O Franks (Canterbury Crusaders); B Retallick (Waikato Chiefs), S Whitelock (Canterbury Crusaders); V Vito (Wellington Hurricanes), R McCaw (Canterbury Crusaders, capt), K Read (Canterbury Crusaders). Replacements: A Thomson (Otago Highlanders) for Vito (47mins); A Williams (Auckland Blues) for Retallick, B Smith (Otago Highlanders) for Guildford (both 52 mins); P Weepu (Auckland Blues) for A Smith (57 mins), H Elliot (Waikato Chiefs) for Hore, B Franks (Canterbury Crusaders) for O Franks (both 63 mins); A Cruden (Waikato Chiefs) for Savea (63 mins).

Ireland:R Kearney (Leinster); F McFadden (Leinster), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster), Simon Zebo (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), D Fitzpatrick (Ulster); D Tuohy (Ulster), D Ryan (Munster); P O’Mahony (Munster), S O’Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: R Loughney (Connacht) for Fitzpatrick (56 mins), R O’Gara (Munster) for Sexton (57 mins); D O’Callaghan (Munster) for Tuohy, K McLaughlin (Leinster) for O’Mahony, E Reddan (Leinster) for Murray (all 63 mins); S Cronin (Leinster) for Healy (72 mins); D Cave (Ulster) for Earls (73 mins).

Referee:Nigel Owens (Wales).

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