Māori All Blacks 32
If Ireland had been hoping to send a message ahead of Saturday's first test, only one side would have been smiling about the content conveyed.
The Māori All Blacks tonight seized their biggest scalp since beating Ireland and England in consecutive weeks 12 years ago, rocking the tourists with a first-half blitz that reaped four tries and a match-winning lead in Hamilton.
Despite a comprehensive defeat, the ramifications for the first test at Eden Park cannot be accurately discerned. The Māori thrived up front but were encountering an inexperienced Irish side whose forward pack had collected only 17 caps between them.
Yet facing a five-match tour with a squad already hampered by injury and Covid, the first-half performance in particular was hardly an ideal way for Ireland to kick off their season.
What would have been particularly concerning for coach Andy Farrell was the fact his side weren't blown away by a flawless opposition.
The Māori did display some brilliant attacking rugby, with Josh Ioane, Shaun Stevenson and Zarn Sullivan shining bright. But there was also an occasional lack of accuracy that would have been expected from a side who had spent little time together and were dealing with sodden conditions.
That did nothing to dampen the hosts' supremacy, however, not when they were being given plenty of help from an Irish team who in the first half had little of the ball and less of an idea of how to play without it.
The defensive resilience generally displayed by Farrell's men was absent, replaced by an ill-disciplined and sloppy unit prone to providing extra chances, leaving huge holes and missing too many tackles.
"The boys are disappointed - they feel they could've given a better account of themselves, certainly in the first half," Farrell said. "But I'm proud of the boys, the way that they came back. It could have been a landslide.
"I think it was a good day for us in regards to lads learning lessons and knowing that if we fix a few things - especially discipline-wise - we can give a better account of ourselves in the next game."
That discipline will have to be tidied up by Saturday, especially around the ruck. Ireland were also guilty of aimlessly kicking away the ball, offering opportunities the Māori gratefully accepted.
The first try was created and completed by Sullivan, the fullback receiving immediate reward for a raking 50-22 that gave his side a lineout five metres from the Irish line.
Ireland did manage to hit back but their try would prove a rare moment of quality, with former Chiefs midfielder Bundee Aki celebrating his homecoming after being sent through a hole by Gavin Coombes.
Errors at first proved costly in the hosts' attempts to build sustained pressure and build a lead. But there was little need to when they boasted the long-range threat that sparked their second try.
After Sullivan had defused a dangerous bomb and put the attack on the front foot, Ioane spotted a gap and scythed through the defence, releasing Stevenson to finish well down the right sideline.
An opportunistic Brad Weber soon made the most of more disciplinary woes to grab the third, before an elusive Stevenson set up a counter-attacking fourth for Cullen Grace.
"We scored some great tries," said coach Clayton McMillan. "I just have to applaud our guys for having the courage to play Māori rugby - give it a bit of air and express yourselves.
"Ireland will be disappointed to have given so many penalties away early on, which gave us a lot of possession and territory that we were able to capitalise on. They did us some favours."
Down 32-10 at the break, Ireland at least played the second spell like they were determined to exert some control and take something positive into Saturday.
They ensured the half was spent largely at the right end of the field and they seriously challenged the hosts' ability to withstand waves of pressure.
But that was an examination the Māori passed, conceding only Gavin Coombes' try with 15 minutes remaining to take a 1-0 lead in the series ahead of next month's second match in Wellington.
Māori All Blacks 32 (Zarn Sullivan, Shaun Stevenson, Brad Weber, Cullen Grace tries; Josh Ioane 2 pens, 3 cons)
Ireland 17 (Bundee Aki, Gavin Coombes tries; Ciaran Frawley pen, 2 cons)