All Blacks run amok in New Plymouth

Getty Images     13 Jun 2010     Getty Images

The All Blacks ran in nine tries to four to surpass their previous highest score against Ireland of 63 points scored in 1999 with a halftime score of 38-7.

Ireland could argue that it was out of the contest when No.8 Jamie Heaslip was dismissed in the 14th minute for twice using his knee on an All Black. But it typified the Irish indiscipline that he commited his offence in front of referee Wayne Barnes and beside the All Blacks' posts.

The cause wasn't helped when first five-eighths Ronan O'Gara was sin-binned when unable to contain himself as Cory Jane attempted to follow his own kick ahead and took him out of play.

But the signs were ominous before their respective departures. And with two men off the paddock the All Blacks' response was emphatic.

It had been raining cats and dogs all week in New Plymouth but it was only raining tries during the first half. For a team with a history of slow starts to its Test season, this was an All Blacks team fully tuned for the task.

Outstanding defensive control smothered the few early Irish initiatives while each of the All Blacks debutants, fullback Israel Dagg, second five-eighths Benson Stanley, prop Ben Franks made significant contributions with Dagg rampant on the counter-attack.

And if they weren't enough, replacement lock Sam Whitelock came on to score two tries while flanker Victor Vito made an impact when he came on.

A turnover by Ireland had disastrous consequences as the ball was moved only for hooker Sean Cronin to drop the ball. It was gathered by Carter who fed Stanley. He threw a long pass to centre Conrad Smith. He found room, kicked ahead and in the dash to contain the ball fullback Rob Kearney failed to control it and Smith, following up closely was able to slid over to score.

Carter's conversion, his 170th, saw him become the kicker of most conversions in Test match rugby history and he ended the game with 17 points and equal third highest points scorer in Tests with Diego Dominguez.

In the 20th minute O'Gara failed to find touch from a penalty and Joe Rokocoko, Dagg and Jane ran the ball back and as the ball moved across the field it was flanker Kieran Read who got across in a melee of players to score wide out. It made no difference to Carter, who landed the conversion to pass 1000 points in Tests, the fourth player, and first New Zealander to achieve the feat.

Ben Franks made the most of a blindside play close to the line to show superb leg drive to get in low to drive over for a quintessential prop forward's try, made all the sweeter in his debut Test. Carter again added the conversion.

Another failed touch finder resulted in Cowan scoring his second try, courtesy of yet another return by Dagg. He set up the ruck from which Carter ran superbly through a gap, fed Read on the right flank and as lock Brad Thorn charged downfield, his inpass found Cowan who scored in the 32nd minute.

Replacement lock Dan Tuohy provided some solace for Ireland when picking up a ball when unmarked at a ruck and racing unchallenged to score in the 36th minute.
All Blacks intensity was too much again, and in the second half, two tries in the first 10 minutes summed up the difference between the sides.

The first came when McCaw tidied up at an Irish knock-on. He fed Dagg who fired a long pass to Jane. With his way blocked he found Smith in support and he raced 40m for his second.

At a tap penalty on halfway Read moved the ball forward.

Replacement halfback Piri Weepu fed lock Anthony Boric, who had a strong game in what turned into a loose affair. He made ground to return to Weepu and when his way was blocked he found Whitelock, who had only been on the field a minute, who scored.

There were consolation tries to skipper Brian O'Driscoll (2) and wing Tommy Bowe, two of Ireland's better backs along with second five-eighths Gordon D'Arcy, but they were reflective of a lack of continuity in defence as New Zealand cleared its bench by the 60th minute. Both teams were without key players but the encouragement for New Zealand was that its replacement players showed far superior skills in attack and defence to what Ireland could manage.

New Zealand 66
Tries: Smith 2, Read, B Franks, Cowan 2, Whitelock 2, Tialata
Con: Carter 7, Weepu 2
Pen: Carter

Ireland 28

Try: Tuohy, O'Driscoll, Bowe, D'Arcy
Con: O'Gara 3, Sexton
HT: 38-7