Heaslip red wrecks Irish hopes
June 12, 2010
Ben Franks scored a try on debut for the All Blacks
© Getty Images
A red card for No.8 Jamie Heaslip wrecked Ireland's hopes of a first win over New Zealand, with the All Blacks powering to a 66-28 victory in New Plymouth on Saturday.
Heaslip was given his marching orders by referee Wayne Barnes on 15 minutes after aiming a knee to the head of All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw at a ruck. In his absence the home side ran wild, scoring nine tries to secure their record points total against Ireland. Scrum-half Jimmy Cowan, centre Conrad Smith and debutant lock Sam Whitelock all bagged braces while prop Ben Franks, No.8 Kieran Read and Neemia Tialata also breached the Irish defence.
With his haul of seven conversions and a penalty, Dan Carter became the fourth player to break the 1,000 points barrier in Tests, following Neil Jenkins, Diego Dominguez and Jonny Wlkinson into the record books. While the wind was knocked from Ireland's sails with Heaslip's moment of madness, and a later yellow for fly-half Ronan O'Gara, they showed plenty of fight to score four tries of their own, through Dan Tuohy, Brian O'Driscoll, Tommy Bowe and Gordon D'Arcy.
The hot topic for the coaches this week had been the breakdown and Barnes wasted no time in penalising the first player to leave his feet, All Blacks No.8 Read. O'Gara smacked a horrible penalty into the arms of debutant fullback Israel Dagg and his mistake was punished with a scything break from the ever-impressive Cory Jane. Tony Buckley, in as a late replacement for the ill John Hayes, hammered the supporting McCaw but Ireland were pinged on the floor.
Carter made no mistake from the tee and Ireland were caught with a suckerpunch when a knock-on from hooker Sean Cronin resulted in a try to Smith at the other end. Carter snaffled possession and put Smith into a half gap, with the Hurricanes centre chipping ahead. Rob Kearney's usually watertight defence disappeared and he kneed the ball across the try-line for Smith to dot down. Carter converted from in front.
With a strong break from D'Arcy having taken them to within inches of the All Blacks' tryline, Heaslip aimed two brutal shots to the head of McCaw, leaving Barnes with no option but to produce red. Waves of New Zealand attack followed, spearheaded by the increasingly influential Dagg. His outside break put Joe Rokocoko into space and after the lightning wing had bumped off Kearney's tackle, quick ball recycling allowed Read to power over out wide. Carter lined up the conversion and helped himself to a place in the history books.
Ireland were rocked to their core, but could offer only further ammo to their rampant hosts. O'Gara was shown yellow for a cynical early tackle as Jane raced after his own kick ahead, and with the fly-half in the sin-bin, the game swiftly took on the complexion of a Greek tragedy for Irish fans. The All Blacks went after their wounded prey from every angle, with Franks powering through some helpless cover tackles to score his first Test try.
Dagg's dream bow continued as he set up another score in double quick time. His show and go took two Irish defenders out of the game and with Cowan on his shoulder there was a simple run in for the scrum-half. The Highlanders skipper was celebrating his second a matter of minutes later after Carter had shown his class with ball in hand. The fly-half collected a loose ball and fixed lock Mick O'Driscoll, accelerating through the gap with ease. Read provided support out wide and his basketball pass set Brad Thorn hurtling for the line. The veteran lock popped a pass over the head of the final cover defender for Cowan to slide in.
With Irish players out on their feet, and flanker John Muldoon off with a suspected broken arm, O'Driscoll's replacement Tuohy provided a small respite by plucking the ball from an attacking ruck inside the All Black 22 and racing clear to score out wide. Half-time came and went with little solace for Ireland, but their efforts after the restart showed renewed vigour.
Kearney used his pace from deep and the visitors were finally able to edge their way up field with Andrew Trimble's strong running paying off. One sloppy pass undid all of their graft though. Carter picked up after a knock on, spiralling a pass to Jane, who had the gas to take Tuohy on the outside. Having thrown a couple of dummies to O'Gara he fired the easiest of passes inside to his Wellington team-mate Smith, who rounded off his double.
Then, Crusaders lock Whitelock trotted onto the field for his debut and seconds later scored his first Test try. The Irish scrum, pegged as a weakness in the build-up, was the basis as Piri Weepu broke from a quick-tap. The replacement scrum-half, on for Cowan, delayed his pass to set Anthony Boric galloping into space and after taking a return pass found a scoring offload for the rangy Whitleock to go in unopposed.
O'Driscoll's 40th Test try followed good offloading by D'Arcy and Buckley, with the skipper carrying two tacklers across the line with him. The All Blacks' confidence remained sky high though, ironically contributing to Ireland's third. Having secured a turnover in the shadow of their posts, McCaw's casual offload bounced off Bowe's fingertips and the winger was able to collect and dive over under the posts.
Ireland continued to attack with great heart with ball in hand, but in defence they remained vulnerable. A dart from replacement Aaron Cruden took the All Blacks close and after Barnes had penalised Ireland on the floor more quick thinking from Weepu sent Tialata powering across the whitewash.
D'Arcy rounded off another promising Irish move as the home side's intensity dropped again, but there was one more moment of misery for the tourists as Whitelock was able to hold off Bowe to score his second and complete a night that will not be swiftly forgotten.
Huw Baines is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
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