Ireland 18-38 New Zealand, Aviva Stadium, November 20
All Blacks sweep Ireland aside
November 20, 2010
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll works hard to strip the ball
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New Zealand closed in on yet another Grand Slam tour with a comprehensive 38-18 victory over Ireland in their clash at Lansdowne Road in Dublin.
Two tries from No.8 Keiran Read and one apiece for locks Anthony Boric and Sam Whitelock powered the All Blacks to their latest tour success with a near-faultless display from fly-half Dan Carter earning him the Man of the Match honour. Only Wales now stand between Graham Henry's side and their latest clean sweep of the UK & Ireland with the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff set to play host to their showdown next weekend.
A first-half try from flanker Stephen Ferris and the boot of No.10 Jonathan Sexton offered Ireland hope of an end to a 105-year drought against the All Blacks but they were blown away by a three-try burst either side of the break that underlined the visitors' class. A superb score from captain Brian O'Driscoll gave the vociferous home crowd something to cheer in the second-half but a much-improved Ireland were still second best by some way.
New Zealand wasted no time in spreading the ball wide with Ireland forced onto the back foot for much of a lively opening. They appeared up to the challenge and weathered the offensive storm but when prop Cian Healey failed to roll away from the breakdown Carter was able to open his account from the kicking tee. But back came Ireland and a long range penalty from Sexton two minutes later brought his side level and sparked the home crowd into life.
The tit-for-tat exchange continued on the quarter hour with Carter slotting his second after a sustained spell of pressure from the All Blacks drew a penalty from Ireland wing Tommy Bowe inside his own 22. But the All Blacks wanted more and streamed forward time and time again only to be thwarted by a determined Irish defence.
Ireland had precious little possession but when they did have the ball in hand they showed they could threaten the All Blacks with scrum-half Eoin Reddan ghosting through on one occasion and another rare foray up field resulting in a wayward drop goal attempt from centre Gordon D'Arcy.
Sexton levelled things up with his second penalty but they were not on level terms for long with Ireland's increasing penalty count allowing Carter to edge his side ahead once more after wing Luke Fitzgerald was singled out by referee Marius Jonker.
Some excellent work at the restart from Ireland's Jamie Heaslip offered hope of an immediate response and the strong-running No.8 was involved a couple of phases later - delivering a well-timed pass to back-row colleague Ferris whose superb line and strength carried him over for the first try of the game that was converted by Sexton. There was no sign of panic from the All Blacks with their forward muscle drawing a penalty at the next scrum that Carter sent sailing over to make it a one-point game.
And they had the lead before the break with a try from Boric due reward for another clinical passage of play. Ireland coughed up possession all to easily and within moments they were desperately defending their own line with the All Blacks' second row powering through for the score that was converted by Carter with the last kick of the half.
The All Blacks picked up where they left off after the re-start with fullback Mils Muliaina dancing his way into the Irish 22 before being stripped of the ball. But the warning signs were there and flanker Jerome Kaino was the next to slip through the Irish defence with his smart off load finding Read in space who had an easy run in for the try. Carter's perfect day with the boot continued with the conversion.
Ireland looked alarmingly stretched again a few moments later as the All Blacks cranked through the gears. Wing Hosea Gear and flanker Richie McCaw featured strongly in another sweeping move that cut the hosts apart and led to Whitelock's try - again converted by his fly-half.
An interception by Heaslip on his own 22 threatened to stem the tide and the No.8 galloped downfield before admitting defeat in his race to the corner. He found support inside but also a number of New Zealand shirts who were penalised in their efforts to snuff out the danger.
Chasing the game the Irish kicked for the corner and did so again with the next penalty before driving infield where they were rewarded with the scrum feed. The All Blacks' defence held firm forcing Ireland wide and the chance looked to have gone when the ball went down but a superb one-handed pick-up from O'Driscoll revived the move and the skipper crashed over for a great try. Sexton could only hit the post with his conversion attempt but the hosts had stopped the rot.
Ireland's desperate attempts to withstand the All Blacks latest riposte led to another penalty but this time the visitors opted for the scrum and a succession of penalties cranked up the pressure only for a wild pass from Read to bring an end to what was a goal line siege. To their credit Ireland rallied as the game entered the final quarter of an hour with fresh legs the driving force but they lacked composure when it mattered most and conceded possession far too easily. Some powerful running from Heaslip and replacement hooker Sean Cronin threatened to force an opening but New Zealand were happy to concede the penalty in the shadow of their own posts.
Ireland continued to hammer away before the ball was worked wide through the hands to replacement Keith Earls who powered over in the corner despite the attention of All Blacks winger Cory Jane only to see the Television Match Official deny him a score.
While Ireland laboured to create openings it came all too easy for New Zealand who refused to show any mercy in the closing moments of the game. The visitors stormed into the Irish 22 where Carter and Muliaina moved the ball wide to Read who crossed for his second score to set the seal on another emphatic victory.
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Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum.