12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
With injuries and an extended 17-match international season taking its toll, Ireland were unable to match the brilliance of their display in Christchurch seven days ago with the ruthless All Blacks running in nine tries in total.
There proved to be no way back for Declan Kidney's men after they leaked three converted tries in the opening quarter, finishing up as 60-0 losers in the end.
Speaking afterwards, Kidney admitted: "We said we'd find out a lot about ourselves over the course of the three weeks. We've found a lot of things about ourselves that we don't like, but now we've found them out.
"We'll adjust those for next season no doubt. I think we've gained from it for the long run as much as it hurts.
"Last week we showed the way you needed to play against New Zealand. In the three games, the first and third games we fell behind by a considerable amount by making turnovers.
"We probably got into their type of game - you're not going to beat them playing their type of game," added the Corkman.
Flanker Sam Cane scored the opening try to crown his first Test start - slipping over in the right corner after some patient build-up play - and Sonny Bill Williams, who was instrumental in a number of moves, bagged a brace.
The bustling centre claimed his first in the 12th minute, hoovering up Aaron Cruden's classy offload out of the tackle, and Williams touched down seven minutes later after the same two players combined to telling effect.
Ireland could not gain a foothold in the New Zealand half and the fired-up hosts swung the breakdown battle back in their favour, profiting from quicker ball and a series of inch-perfect offloads.
Individual errors and turnovers left Ireland scrapping to stay in contention and a breakaway score from Ben Smith, allied to an injury-time penalty from debutant Beauden Barrett, put 29 points between the sides at the interval.
Before Barrett's final kick of the first half, Ireland had lost Rob Kearney to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock on. There was no let-up from the home side when play resumed with the excellent Liam Messam charging through and Cane helping himself to his second try.
Elements of Ireland's game were breaking down on a night to forget and a loose lineout led to Hosea Gear's barnstorming 50th-minute effort. The powerful winger bounced off the covering Keith Earls and stretched over in the corner past Fergus McFadden for try number six.
New Zealand continued to slow up and disrupt Irish ball and the tourists were unable to follow through on any chinks of light, such as Donnacha Ryan's block down on Aaron Smith.
Influential back row duo Cane and Messam combined for the latter to storm over for a deserved try on the hour mark, with both coaches now dipping into their reserves.
New Zealand's strength in depth was beginning to hurt a tiring, off colour Ireland side and Israel Dagg soon took the Kiwis through the half century mark, darting onto Williams' superbly weighted kick through to score to the right of the posts.
Pinned back in their own half, Kidney's charges showed a little more energy with replacements Ronan O'Gara, Chris Henry and Andrew Trimble getting on the ball along with the hard-working Cian Healy.
But the clinical nature of New Zealand's attack was evident yet again when turnover ball led to Barrett feeding replacement Adam Thomson for the ninth and final try. Barrett also converted.
Brian O'Driscoll, defiant to the last and maintaining an infectiously high work-rate, tried to inspire with a flicked pass but McFadden could not deliver a return ball and the late opportunity was missed.
Moments earlier, a rare line break - replacement Sean Cronin did the damage this time - raised hopes of a consolation score for Ireland. Trimble provided support and a penalty set up a lineout in a promising position, only for a ruck offence to spoil things.
It was that kind of night for Ireland, very little went right for them with that terrible start sapping the confidence and belief gained from the second encounter of the series. Certainly, it was a deflating way to end a campaign that had offered much promise.
Those injured first choice players were severely missed at times, but the likes of Peter O'Mahony, Simon Zebo, Dan Tuohy, Henry and Declan Fitzpatrick - all with seven caps or less - will no doubt benefit from this experience in the long run.
Second row Ryan was arguably Ireland's player of the series, while Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Sean O'Brien, Healy and Mike Ross also had some stellar moments.
The exposure to playing the All Blacks on New Zealand soil is an all too rare thing for Irish players. Indeed, it will be 12 years before a similar tour takes place.
Foremost in the minds of the current Ireland squad will be a well-earned rest before the new season kicks off in September. Two months later, they will have a chance to unload the frustrations of their Hamilton hammering against South Africa.
|New Zealand Score Card|
|Sonny Bill Williams||2||10|
|Ireland Score Card|