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Hamilton gears up for Irish invasion

NEW ZEALAND bosses have called on their supporters to get behind the All Blacks with thousands of Irish supporters expected to cram into the Waikato Stadium for the third Test on Saturday.

With the last few tickets bought overnight, the match is officially a sell-out meaning a capacity crowd of 25,100 will be present to see if the Irish can achieve their first win over New Zealand having come agonisingly close in Christchurch last weekend, before going down 22-19.

Ireland may have lost the series and both previous Tests but their supporters, many of whom travelled across from Australia to join those based in New Zealand, have outdone the All Blacks fans for colour and fervour and NZRU chief Steve Tew is looking for a home response this weekend.

“The All Blacks are expecting to face another determined Irish side this Saturday and we’re looking for a huge crowd of All Blacks' supporters in Hamilton. Last week's game was a fantastic display of physicality and determination from both teams, nearly 44,000 people turned out in Auckland for the first Test match, Christchurch had a sell-out 21,000 crowd last weekend, and now it's Hamilton's turn to host a full house.”

Ireland last faced the All Blacks in Hamilton at Waikato Stadium in June 2006 and led 16-8 at half-time before going down 34 - 23.

Hamilton is looking forward to an Irish invasion over the weekend with a variety of pre-match entertainment including free live Irish music and dancing, Hamilton's famous Human Rugby Statue, street performers, Leprechauns, face painting for children.

“We are really excited to host the All Blacks and Ireland in Hamilton for this match. Rugby is strong in the Waikato and the city is embracing both teams, with free entertainment on Saturday afternoon helping to create a memorable Test match experience,” said Waikato Rugby chief executive Graham Bowen.