Clinical All Blacks power past Ireland
June 9, 2012
New Zealand's Julian Savea is congratulated on scoring during an outstanding display at Eden Park
© Getty Images
Debutant winger Julian Savea scored a hat-trick to inspire New Zealand to an impressive 42-10 win over Ireland at Eden Park.
Story of the Game
The Irish had no answer for the pace and power of world champions' backline and the Hurricanes winger ran in three tries inside the first 43 minutes of his first international outing. The running lines and swift incisions of Israel Dagg, Conrad Smith and Savea caused Ireland problems throughout and coach Declan Kidney will need to come up with a way of negating the dangerous New Zealand backs if Ireland are to avoid a series sweep.
Ireland's start was bright, but they lost possession off their own scrum with three minutes on the clock and conceded a penalty seconds later which Dan Carter sent over. The All Blacks went off their feet two minutes later and Jonathan Sexton levelled matters. The score spurred the visitors on and Donnacha Ryan, Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy were all responsible for huge hits.
Brian O'Driscoll found Earls in midfield and the Munster man set up the charging Simon Zebo, who was bundled out of play only metres from the left-hand corner. The momentum was reversed by two quick penalty concessions and Carter landed a goal-kick from the halfway line to make it 6-3 with 16 minutes on the clock.
The out-half added three more from a similar distance as Savea forced a penalty through a hefty challenge on fullback Rob Kearney. An Ireland clearance looked to have Zac Guilford under pressure after 26 minutes, but his drop bounced backward and he spooned a pass left.
Smith created the opening as he drew in Fergus McFadden and Keith Earls before offloading. Carter took possession and slipped Savea in. The winger raced free and touched down under the posts. Carter added the extras. Savea broke free again minutes later as Sean O'Brien missed a regulation tackle and it took a flying tap tackle from Kearney and good scrambling from Peter O'Mahony for Ireland to clear.
Zebo was Ireland's best attacking option in the opening half and he was almost clear for a try after 30 minutes, but was chopped down in full flight as he sprinted into the All Blacks' 22. Ireland enjoyed a brief attacking flurry in New Zealand territory, but they were getting knocked back heavily in the tackle. A big hit on Sexton led to broken play and Zebo needed to use his pace in defence as he slid in to cover a dangerous Dagg chip.
Conor Murray needed every ounce of strength in his scrum-half frame soon after as he repelled a charging Sam Whitelock at the right corner. Play streamed right to left and Dagg took a great attacking line before setting up Savea for his second try.
There was attention from Kearney and Murray and a television replay, but the score was never in doubt. Carter landed a fine conversion from the left touchline to make it 23-3 at the break.
Any thoughts of an unlikely Irish comeback were extinguished within three minutes of the restart as Dagg and Savea combined again. The All Black 15 twisted and turned his opposite number in defence before he popped up a pass for Savea to get his hat-trick. Carter got his third conversion to make it 30-3.
All the attacks were coming down McFadden's flank but the right winger got some relief as Rory Best scrambled for possession and Sexton hoofed the ball upfield. The Leinster man beat Richie McCaw in a foot race to touch down and Sexton's conversion made it 30-10.
Earls and O'Driscoll then needed to be strong in defence as they held up Keiran Read on the line after a thundering run. The relief was short-lived as New Zealand's strong ruck sucked in Irish defenders but not enough to stop Adam Thomson from crashing over.
Both teams rang the changes with 20 minutes remaining and Ireland weathered another spell of pressure from the home team and looked to have clawed themselves back into a respectable position. McFadden outsprinted Dagg 80 metres to score under the posts but referee Nigel Owens had already called back play for an Irish offside.
There was further reason for Irish hearts to flutter in the final minutes as loosehead prop Cian Healy was injured and replaced by hooker Sean Cronin. Smith was then rewarded for a fantastic performance when he dived over to the right of the posts after a slick pass from Cruden. Carter added the extras to make it 42-10 and give the Irish plenty to ponder ahead of next week's second Test in Christchurch.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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