Ireland crushed by All Blacks


A brace of tries from Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Cane broke the back of Ireland’s challenge with the match effectively over as New Zealand led 29-0 at half-time.

By the final whistle in Hamilton the All Blacks had run in nine tries in a scintillating show that well and truly ended Ireland’s 11-month season on a low with what was their worst ever defeat to New Zealand.

The home side started the livelier of the two sides with the offloading prowess of Williams providing an ever-present danger.

The All Blacks tested the Irish left to right as referee Roman Poite overlooked a forward pass by Williams before Cruden’s delightful flick pass set up Cane for his first international try.

Cruden stepped up to add the extras despite the best efforts of Keith Earls to distract.

The Chiefs out-half combined with his Super Rugby team-mate Williams again after only 12 minutes with a superb flick pass.

The centre bounced off Fergus McFadden and raced free to touch down with Cruden once again adding the extras.

Irish No 8 Peter O’Mahony was pulled up soon after for being offside at a ruck but Cruden’s penalty was left and wide.

That was the only bright point of the opening 20 minutes as Cruden once again combined with Williams for a score.

The diminutive out-half fed his number 12, who stepped inside Paddy Wallace and bounced through Dan Tuohy to dive over for his second. Israel Dagg kicked the conversion.

Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll then squandered position as Ireland made their first meaningful foray into the All Blacks half.

His team harried to get the ball back but when Wallace failed to find O’Driscoll in midfield, Cruden raced free and tossed up a pass that Ben Smith took at full gallop and touched down in the right corner. Dagg missed the conversion as Cruden left the pitch for treatment.

Rob Kearney did well to hold onto an Earls pass at full pace before New Zealand were penalised for going off their feet.

With three points not enough to make a difference on the scoreboard, Ireland went for the five-metre scrum but scrum-half Aaron Smith stole possession and kicked clear.

Poite sent Kearney to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on as the All Blacks swarmed down the right flank.

Beauden Barrett, on for the injured Cruden, marked his debut with a penalty that made it 29-0 at half-time.

Four minutes into the second half Liam Messam burst through two tackles and fed the supporting Aaron Smith.

The scrum-half’s offload bounced off Cane’s chest but the flanker gathered the looping ball and dived over under the posts. Barrett chipped the conversion over.

Left winger Hosea Gear then scored the All Blacks sixth try. He outpaced McFadden and delivered a crunching forearm into Earls’ face before dragging the trailing McFadden over the tryline with him.

Barrett’s conversion missed but Steve Hansen’s men led 41-0 after just 51 minutes.

Five minutes later Cane fed a charging Messam who dived over.

Williams the took a pass on the halfway line and sized up his options before releasing Dagg down the right with a perfectly judged grubber kick.

The full-back evaded the chasing Earls and touched down, with Barrett landing the extras.

Replacement Adam Thomson raced clear for a try after great work from Luke Romano and Barrett in a build-up that left Poite and half the Irish team sprawling on the turf.

Barrett’s successful kick made it 60-0 and left the tourists deflated at the whistle.

Ireland crushed by All Blacks


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 full-back 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.