Gutsy Ireland fall short
Ireland are still winless in their relationship with the All Blacks after the 24th game between them ended in a four tries to two 38-18 success for New Zealand in front of 46,302 at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.
It was the biggest crowd so far of the November series which concludes next Sunday against Argentina. Hooker Rory Best is already gone for that game and is due an operation on a broken cheekbone.
There are doubts too over Brian O'Driscoll who went for a scan on his shoulder. Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald also had scans on injured knees, and both Gordon D'Arcy and Tommy Bowe had what Declan kidney described as "tight calves".
As for the improvement in Ireland's performance, Kidney said: "It was a mixture of what we've been working at. We got a dry day and a brilliant crowd. But we have to hang onto to the ball a bit better.
"We had a front five a few years ago that had over 300 caps between them. We have a front five now with maybe 150 caps. You can't buy experience. We lost a couple of lineouts because we went for the difficult throw. Kick-off receipts is something else we'll have to look at.
"Finishing was the difference [between the teams]. I think we put our defence under enormous pressure by turning the ball over a few times. Maybe pro rata we scored off 50 per cent of our possession which would not be too dissimilar to them."
Jamie Heaslip described the day as a frustrating one for the Ireland team. "We made mistakes in that 10-15-minute period [early in the second half] when they showed how good they are. We put them under pressure when we had the ball and if we had kept it a bit more who knows? The flip side is that it's in our control. When we got quick ball I thought we put them under a lot of pressure."
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw felt patience had been the key to his side's triumph which keeps them on course for an autumn series Tests Grand Slam.
"We had to work hard for it," he said.
"I'm proud of the way the guys played. We were playing some good rugby and I knew if we were patient and hung on to the ball we would get our opportunities.
"It was a good tough Test match with both teams ready to have a crack."
McCaw's men have seen off England, Scotland and Ireland and will be looking to complete a clean sweep against Wales next weekend.