Ireland fall to NZ Maori
NZ Maori 31
Published 18/06/2010 | 12:43
Jonathan Sexton tarnished a fine performance by missing a late penalty as Ireland became the latest nation to fall to the New Zealand Maori.
Sexton landed seven penalties and a conversion but failed with his ninth attempt as the home side held on.
Nevertheless, his display is likely to give him the edge over Ronan O'Gara in the battle for selection ahead of next Saturday's clash with Australia in Brisbane.
But while Sexton's place looks assured, there are question marks hanging over the rest of the Ireland team after they became the latest scalp for the Maori.
Hosea Gear and Dwayne Sweeney scored early tries to establish a 15-0 lead for the Maori before Sexton and Luke McAlister exchanged penalties.
Sexton then took over with five more precision kicks to drag his side level at 18-18 at half-time.
Paddy Wallace charged over in the first minute of the second half as Ireland remained on the front foot and Sexton's conversion saw them establish a 25-18 advantage.
A McAlister penalty reduced the arrears and Karl Lowe then went over as the Maori hit back.
Another Sexton penalty made it 28-28.
Nine minutes from the end Ireland flanker Niall Ronan was penalised in front of his posts and Willie Ripia landed the penalty goal but from the restart the Maori obstructed Ireland and Sexton again had the chance to level the score but missed his first kick of the night.