18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
NEW ZEALAND 66 IRELAND 28, Yarrow Stadium
Scorers: New Zealand: Tries: Conrad Smith 2, Kieran Read, Ben Franks, Jimmy Cowan 2, Sam Whitelock 2, Neemia Tialata; Cons: Dan Carter 7, Piri Weepu 2; Pen: Dan Carter
Ireland: Tries: Dan Tuohy, Brian O'Driscoll, Tommy Bowe, Gordon D'Arcy; Cons: Ronan O'Gara 3, Jonathan Sexton
Ireland showed plenty of character and resilience to register four tries, through debutant Dan Tuohy, who came on as a replacement, and backs Brian O'Driscoll, Tommy Bowe and Gordon D'Arcy.
However, they could not prevent the All Blacks, who were rampant at times, from building their highest ever score against the Irish.
They bettered their 63-15 victory at Lansdowne Road in 1997, but their winning margin of 59-6 from the 1992 Test in Wellington remains in the record books. So too does the 29 points - Ireland's record points tally against the Kiwis, from their 2001 Lansdowne Road tie.
Although this game marked a try-scoring debut for Tuohy and Sean Cronin's first start, and a late Test bow for John Fogarty, the Irish squad and management will want to quickly forget this showing.
Tony Buckley and Andrew Trimble, who went close to scoring a try, both impressed with ball in hand, but there were precious few crumbs for Ireland to take from this into next week's clash with the New Zealand Maori.
In addition, injuries to John Muldoon (arm) and Mick O'Driscoll (hamstring), along with a virus which kept John Hayes out of the game, will cause concern.
Little went right for Declan Kidney's men in the first half at a wet and windy Yarrow Stadium, the host venue for 2011 Rugby World Cup pool opener against the USA.
Match referee Wayne Barnes brandished the red card to Jamie Heaslip after he ruled that the Ireland number 8 had used his right knee to connect with the head of a New Zealand player at a ruck.
It was a pivotal moment in Saturday's Test, coming at a 16th minute ruck close to the All Blacks try-line and just moments after a sniping run from D'Arcy.
Was the tide turning? Probably not, as New Zealand, in their first outing of 2010, had looked dangerous for most of the preceding 15 minutes.
Out-half Dan Carter kicked them ahead in the sixth minute, the first of his eight successful shots at the posts in a 17-point display.
Silky centre Conrad Smith then made the most of a Rob Kearney error, the Irish full-back allowing the ball to bounce free off his knee as he chased back to defend Smith's kick through. Smith was on hand to dive on the loose ball and score, with Carter converting.
Ireland came close to replying but D'Arcy was held up and then Heaslip had his moment of madness, kneeing a New Zealand player in the head twice, according to Barnes, as the Irish tried to free up ruck ball.
Ireland's night went from bad to worse as New Zealand number 8 Kieran Read grabbed his first Test try, in the 21st minute, after great build-up work involving Israel Dagg, Benson Stanley and Joe Rokocoko.
Carter's conversion made him the fourth player to reach 1000 Test points behind Jonny Wilkinson, Neil Jenkins and Diego Dominguez.
His opposite number, Ronan O'Gara, was sent to the sin-bin shortly afterwards for holding back winger Cory Jane as he chased his own kick and from there on, Ireland's 13-man defence was opened up regularly by Dagg and Stanley, who offered plenty of threat on their debuts.
Debutant prop Ben Franks was next over the whitewash before Jimmy Cowan bagged a quick-fire brace and all of them were converted by Carter for a 38-0 lead.
Tuohy, who had come on for the injured Mick O'Driscoll, rounded off the half on a positive note for Ireland with a well-taken try, galloping clean through off a ruck on the hosts' 22, which O'Gara - in his 99th Test - converted.
38-7 down at half-time, Ireland made a promising start to the second half but an error from Cian Healy handed New Zealand an early chance. Clinical in attack, they soon manufactured a sixth try when Dagg's pass put Jane clear on the counter and he put Smith in for his second.
New Zealand boss Graham Henry turned to his replacements bench and lock Sam Whitelock became the third debutant to score a five-pointer within a minute of replacing Brad Thorn. Carter's conversion was his last meaningful action before being replaced by another new recruit Aaron Cruden.
Showing great commitment, determination and building through the phases, Ireland were not going to go down without a fight and continued to play the attacking brand of rugby they promised during the week.
Brian O'Driscoll typified that when he featured twice on his way to his 40th try'for his country, and then Bowe pounced on a poor pass by Richie McCaw to dart over for the visitors' third. O'Gara was on target with both conversions.
New Zealand were not finished, though, and from a quick tap by Piri Weepu, his fellow replacement Neemia Tialata used his strength to rumble over from in front of the posts.
With Carter off the pitch, Weepu took over the goal-kicking duties and continued the perfect record of the night by banging over the conversion.
The industrious Trimble looked to have squeezed his way over in the left corner, with seven minutes left, but television match official George Ayoub ruled that the Ulsterman had lost the ball forward as he went for the line.
D'Arcy made no mistake, three minutes later, when he went over for Ireland's fourth try following a concerted spell of pressure in the 22. Replacement half-backs Eoin Reddan and Jonathan Sexton and Geordan Murphy, who replaced Kearney, did well to spark a late push from the men in green.
However, it was young lock Whitelock who had the final say, completing his brace as New Zealand showed no mercy.
TIME LINE: 6 minutes - New Zealand penalty: Dan Carter - 3-0; 13 mins - New Zealand try: Conrad Smith - 8-0; conversion: Dan Carter - 10-0; 16 mins - Ireland red card: Jamie Heaslip; 21 mins - New Zealand try: Kieran Read - 15-0; conversion: Dan Carter - 17-0; 25 mins - Ireland yellow card: Ronan O'Gara; 28 mins - New Zealand try: Ben Franks - 22-0; conversion: Dan Carter - 24-0; 30 mins - New Zealand try: Jimmy Cowan - 29-0; conversion: Dan Carter - 31-0; 34 mins - New Zealand try: Jimmy Cowan - 36-0; conversion: Dan Carter - 38-0; 37 mins - Ireland try: Dan Tuohy - 38-5; conversion: Ronan O'Gara - 38-7; Half-time - New Zealand 38 Ireland 7; 47 mins - New Zealand try: Conrad Smith - 43-7; conversion: Dan Carter - 45-7; 51 mins - New Zealand try: Sam Whitelock - 50-7; conversion: Dan Carter - 52-7; 57 mins - Ireland try: Brian O'Driscoll - 52-12; conversion: Ronan O'Gara - 52-14; 61 mins - Ireland try: Tommy Bowe - 52-19; conversion: Ronan O'Gara - 52-21; 66 mins - New Zealand try: Neemia Tialata - 57-21; conversion: Piri Weepu - 59-21; 76 mins - Ireland try: Gordon D'Arcy - 59-26; conversion: Jonathan Sexton - 59-28; 78 mins - New Zealand try: Sam Whitelock - 64-28; conversion: Piri Weepu - 66-28; Full-time - New Zealand 66 Ireland 28
NEW ZEALAND: Israel Dagg; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Benson Stanley, Joe Rokocoko; Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan; Ben Franks, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Anthony Boric, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (capt), Kieran Read.
Replacements used: Victor Vito for Kaino (38 mins), Piri Weepu for Cowan (half-time), Sam Whitelock for Thorn (50), Neemia Tialata for B Franks (52), Aaron Cruden for Carter (54), Aled de Malmanche for Mealamu, Zac Guildford for Jane (both 63), Ben Franks for O Franks (70).
IRELAND: Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Gordon D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble; Ronan O'Gara, Tomas O'Leary; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tony Buckley, Donncha O'Callaghan, Mick O'Driscoll, John Muldoon, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements used: Shane Jennings for Muldoon (32 mins, inj), Dan Tuohy for M O'Driscoll (36, inj), Eoin Reddan for O'Leary, Jonathan Sexton for O'Gara, Geordan Murphy for Kearney (all 70), Tom Court for Healy, John Fogarty for Cronin (both 77).
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
|New Zealand Score Card|
|Ireland Score Card|