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McAlister seals second Test win

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Sportal.co.nz     17 Jun 2006     allblacks.com

But once again it was the last 10 minutes that spelled the difference between the sides after Ireland mounted an intense third quarter challenge in their bid to win the game.

However, the All Blacks responded and it was first five-eighths Luke McAlister who scored the try that won the match after 70 minutes.

It came from a period of intense forward pressure and when the ball was released to the backs McAlister was able to squeeze his way through the smallest gap to score and convert to give New Zealand its final advantage.

The power of the home pack, and its unity, saw the Irish contained for all but the last six minutes of the half.

But that unity evaporated when some untidy play allowed Ireland to battle its way back from 0-20 down with two good tries, with influential lock Paul O'Connell featuring in both. He scored the first and provided the impetus for the second.

The All Blacks started by running the ball, even in the heavy rain, with good effect while Ireland was more inclined to kick for field position.

First five-eighths Ronan O'Gara had a long range attempt at goal from 50m but it dropped under the bar.

All Blacks halfback Byron Kelleher scored the first try after five minutes. It came from a first-up lineout take by lock Chris Jack. Centre Casey Laulala cut back with the ball and set up a charge for lock Troy Flavell to almost go over.

From the ruck right on the line, Kelleher burrowed through to touch down.

Twenty-seven minutes into the half, some clever lead-up play with a break by Laulala, and then an astutely-placed kick by second five-eighths Aaron Mauger resulted in Ireland having to put the ball out five metres from their own line.

No.8 Rodney So'oialo took the ball cleanly and the All Blacks forwards mounted a big drive. Jack grabbed the ball from the back and dived for the line. However, he looked to drop the ball and it was prop Clarke Dermody who picked up the ball and scored the try, with the Irish players contesting the ball was knocked on by Jack.

Three minutes later halfback Peter Stringer took a quick tap penalty on the All Blacks' 22m line and fed flying lock Paul O'Connell. He was taken to ground but not held. Clambering to his feet he raced unopposed to the try at the posts. O'Gara landed the conversion.

The All Blacks went back on the attack from the restart and were building momentum when Ireland was penalised in front of the posts for hands in the ruck with McAlister landing the penalty goal 34 minutes into the half.

At a lineout on the All Blacks line, O'Connell won the ball and the Irish drove around him, eventually crabbing their way along the goalline before hooker Jerry Flannery scored for O'Gara to add the conversion.

The All Blacks looked to re-establish their hold in the game in the early moments of the second half, but unforced errors continued, especially when trying to escape Ireland's clutches in their own 22m area.

It was from a penalty in this phase that O'Gara closed the gap to 20-17.

The All Blacks continued to try to force play back into the Irish half but errors in the wet continued and it wasn't until a powerful All Blacks surge without about 15 minutes remaining saw two vital penalties conceded by Ireland. At the second the All Blacks chose a five-metre scrum instead of a kick.

The scrum was reset twice after powerful New Zealand shoves McAlister's moment to score the try that carried the team out to a seven-point cushion. He added the conversion.

Play ranged up and down the field for the last 10 minutes but the All Blacks defences held.

Scorers:

New Zealand 27 (Byron Kelleher, Clarke Dermody, Luke McAlister tries; McAlister 3 con, 2 pen) Ireland 17 (Paul O'Connell, Jerry Flannery tries; Ronan O'Gara 2 con, pen).