Relentless All Blacks eye series win
June 14, 2012
Julian Savea was the star of the show for the All Blacks last weekend © Getty Images
New Zealand host Ireland in the second Test of three on Saturday after the World Cup holders showed no signs of slowing down when the pair met last weekend.
The All Blacks powered to a 42-10 win over Ireland with debutant hat-trick hero Julian Savea getting the headlines. They displayed their usual brand of rugby with quick hands and constant support runners at the forefront of their performance. Ireland had little answer to the All Blacks and they will be looking to put up more of a fight come Saturday.
For the All Blacks, the match will also mark an emotional return to Christchurch. It will be the first time they have played there since the horrific earthquake in February of last year and they will look to raise some spirits in the stricken city.
Ireland will hope that they can replicate some of the form shown by their club sides in recent months with Leinster sweeping all before them on the European stage. But when faced with the wall of black shirts, it will take a very committed performance from Declan Kidney's charges to record their first ever win over the Kiwis.
New Zealand - Player to Watch: Julian Savea announced himself on the world stage with a hat-trick last weekend and he will look to continue in the same vein and prove that it was not a fluke. Ireland most do more to contain the flyer if they are to stand any chance of coming away with the win.
New Zealand - Team News: Victor Vito was the All Blacks' main casualty after last weekend's game and Adam Thomson starts in his place at blindside. The uncapped Sam Cane comes on to the bench in his place with coach Steve Hansen keeping the faith with the new-look second row of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock. Sonny Bill Williams keeps his spot at inside centre despite media reports last week suggesting that Ma'a Nonu may get the nod.
Ireland - Player to Watch: Richie McCaw got the better of Sean O'Brien last week so the Leinster man will be chomping at the bit to try and get one over the master openside. O'Brien will have to produce one of his best ever performances if he is to stand a chance of achieving this, but there is no doubt that he has the ability to vie with the best of them.
Ireland - Team News: Underfire Declan Kidney has made four changes to the side that lost to the All Blacks. Andrew Trimble comes on to the wing in place of Simon Zebo with Gordon D'Arcy partnering Brian O'Driscoll in the centres. Kevin McLaughlin, who came on in the second half of the first Test, is named in the back-row, with Peter O'Mahony swapping places to move into the replacements. Mike Ross comes back into the team in place of Declan Fitzpatrick at tight-head, with Fitzpatrick moving to the replacements instead of Ronan Loughney.
Key Battle: Ireland have to disrupt the All Blacks' set piece if they are to prevail in Christchurch. One aspect of the game they need to target is the second-row. If Dan Tuohy and Donnacha Ryan can get at Retallick and Whitelock then it may just swing the game in their favour.
Trivia: Julian Savea became the seventh All Black to score a hat-trick of tries on his debut when he crossed for his trio against Ireland last weekend.
Stats: By winning 50 of his 56 Test matches, Conrad Smith now has the highest winning percentage of any player in the world with more than 50 Test wins (89.3%).
Quote unquote: "The team, especially those of us from Christchurch, know that people have still been doing it tough so hopefully we can give them a performance on Saturday that puts a smile on their faces." - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen
"We took a good look at things on Monday with the players and saw where we went wrong so the focus this week will be 99 per cent on ourselves, we need to get ourselves right and not be concentrating on the others." - Ireland boss Declan Kidney
Prediction: Expect an even bigger and better performance from the All Blacks with them taking the second Test in convincing fashion
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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