Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks give Irish record backlash

Sonny Bill Williams of the All Blacks scores a try during the International Test Match between New Zealand and Ireland. Photo / Getty Images.
Sonny Bill Williams of the All Blacks scores a try during the International Test Match between New Zealand and Ireland. Photo / Getty Images.

All Blacks 60
Ireland 0

A concerted team effort was demanded of the All Blacks after last week's lacklustre performance in Christchurch. Unfortunately for Ireland, it took only three Chiefs to shut them out of this game after less than 20 minutes.

Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden and Sonny Bill Williams did tonight at Waikato Stadium what they have been doing to opposition Super Rugby teams all season.

The trio were involved in the first three converted tries, Cane starting the rout after five minutes and Williams sticking twin daggers into the Irish with the next two when combining beautifully with Cruden.

All three were outstanding in their different ways, although Cruden, so sharp and elusive, limped from the field with an Achilles injury after 23 minutes and didn't return.

He joins Dan Carter in the casualty ward and could be out for several weeks, but Beauden Barrett, in his first test, was more than steady as his replacement.

Cane, in his first test start, was outstanding _ he has a David Pocock-like presence at the breakdown, and, like the Wallabies' flanker, rarely gets penalised. Williams was almost unstoppable at second-five and played his best game of the series.

Ben Smith's first test try after 22 minutes meant there was no way back for Ireland and referee Romain Poite confirmed it after the halftime hooter when he harshly sinbinned fullback Rob Kearney for intentionally knocking down a pass when it appeared that he was going for the intercept.

Down to 14 men, an already one-sided game could only get more so, but it was a credit to the All Blacks that they kept the Irish scoreless despite a loose and, at times, frenetic match. Certainly, that was one thing that pleased coach Steve Hansen.

"A lot of teams when they win with high scores, the defence goes, but tonight the team held their discipline to defend well,'' he said.

Skipper Richie McCaw, impressive in the unfamiliar position of No8, added: "To keep that [defence] going for 80 minutes and still score those tries was really pleasing. The guys were keen to make it happen to and not have them cross our line was great.''

This was the All Blacks' biggest ever win margin over Ireland - beating the 59-6 thrashing in Wellington in 1992.

Cane scored his second under the posts only minutes into the second half and it was a case of damage limitation for the men in green who would have sorely wished they had flown home after their 22-19 defeat at AMI Stadium.

Tries to Hosea Gear, Liam Messam, Israel Dagg, Adam Thomson completed the rout. It was a disappointing way for Ireland, who had offered so much last week, to end their tour.

There were plenty of mistakes from the All Blacks, particularly from kick-offs, but it's hard to quibble with a victory of this nature and particularly after such a spectacular start.
McCaw said of the response to last weekend's challenge from the Irish: "It was just making sure you're on the edge. You only have to be off by a couple of per cent for things to change.

"We weren't happy with last week but we realised Ireland turned up and forced us into mistakes. But at the end of the day we still got a test win. You've got to stay calm under pressure because that's what test rugby is all about.

"There has been an edge all week, from everyone.''

The All Blacks were having trouble with their hands even before the rain began, but they had such a wealth of possession it hardly mattered. The sight of Brian O'Driscoll throwing a wild pass over the sideline when Ireland looked promising wouldn't have pleased him or his coaches.

Although their scrum looked strong, it wasn't as good as last week in Christchurch and their one opportunity in the first half, when they had consecutive set pieces 5m from the All Blacks' line, was wasted.

Hansen was pleased to see his new boys respond. Crusaders lock Luke Romano was a handful in his first test, and Barrett was calmness personified.

Wings Hosea Gear and Ben Smith took their chances well and Keven Mealamu came through the second half with his calf unscathed - his first game since April.

A tough, unrewarding, tour for Ireland is over. Their search for that elusive victory after 107 years continues.

"Last week we showed how to play the All Blacks - don't give them 20 points in the first 20 minutes,'' coach Declan Kidney said.

"That's a difficult one to take today,'' added skipper O'Driscoll. "They didn't seem to work hard for them, they were pretty easy tries. Pretty soon you're chasing the game,''

All Blacks 60 (Sam Cane 2, Sonny Bill Williams 2, Ben Smith, Hosea Gear, Liam Messam, Israel Dagg, Adam Thomson tries; Beauden Barrett 3, Aaron Cruden 2, Israel Dagg, cons; Beauden Barrett pen).

Ireland 0

HT: 29-0

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 24 Oct 2014 08:37:34 Processing Time: 475ms