Hugh Farrelly: Ireland's season ends in humiliation after thrashing from All Blacks
NEW ZEALAND 60
IRELAND’S year-long season ended in crushing defeat and humiliation in Hamilton today as New Zealand tore Declan Kidney’s side to shreds with nine tries and a brand of rugby way beyond the visitors’ reach.
The performance the previous week in Christchurch, when Ireland were only beaten by a last-minute Dan Carter drop goal, allied to the absence of Carter and Kieran Read through injury, had raised expectations that the All Blacks could be pushed close again. Instead the Irish were embarrassingly outclassed, Sam Cane opening the scoring for home side with a try after only six minutes in his first international start.
Three more followed in swift succession, two from Sonny Bill Williams and one for Ben Smith, to leave the scoreline at 26-0 with only 22 minutes gone. Beauden Barrett (on for injured out-half Aaron Cruden) added a penalty just on half-time after Ireland full-back Rob Kearney was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on when another New Zealand try beckoned.
The half-time break brought no relief for the Irish and, though Kidney emptied his bench, there was no preventing the flow of All Blacks scores. Cane again, Hosea Gear, Liam Messam, Israel Dagg and Adam Thomson all crossed the line and, while the Irish threatened on a handful of occasions, the New Zealand defence always looked in command.
Steve Hansen’s side can now look forward to The Rugby Championship against South Africa, Australia and Argentina with genuine confidence while the Irish return home to ponder the on-going issue of how club achievement is not being transferred to the national side.
NEW ZEALAND – I Dagg; B Smith, C Smith (T Ellison 61), SB Williams, H Gear; A Cruden (B Barrett 23), A Smith (P Weepu 60); T Woodcock (B Franks 73), A Hore (K Mealamu h-t), O Franks; L Romano, S Whitelock (B Retallick 56); L Messam, S Cane (A Thomson 70), R McCaw (capt)
IRELAND – R Kearney; F McFadden, B O’Driscoll (capt), P Wallace (R O’Gara 54), K Earls (A Trimble 48-54, 64); J Sexton, C Murray (E Reddan 55); C Healy, R Best (S Cronin 68), M Ross (D Fitzpatrick 58); D Tuohy (D O’Callaghan 55), D Ryan; K McLaughlin (C Henry 54), S O’Brien, P O’Mahony. Yellow card: Kearney 39
REF – R Poite (France)