Ireland gave themselves the best possible start to their three match New Zealand tour with a record breaking 56-3 win over a Divisional XV at a well attended Alpine Energy Stadium in Timaru.
The previous highest winning margin was 25 points when Ireland beat South Cantebury in 1992 and the most points scored by an Irish side came on that same tour when Ireland beat Bay of Plenty 39-23.
This time around Ireland set about their task in a no nonsense frame of mind. The Irish were in sparkling form, running in nine tries, four in the opening half, with Brian O’Driscoll ending up with a hat trick. Ireland led 27-3 at the break with their tries coming from David Humphreys (3rd min), Justin Bishop (12th min) and O’Driscoll (19th and 25th mins).
They continued where they left off in the second half their opening score coming from Girvan Dempsey, followed by try number six from Anthony Foley before Mel Deane scored on his international debut.
In the 70th minute the New Zealanders were reduced to 14 when Matt Porter was red carded . O’Driscoll completed his hat-trick scoring from the half way and then a sublime break by the Lion resulted in a try for substitute Geordan Murphy.
Ireland. G Dempsey; J Bishop, B O’Driscoll, M Deane (G Murphy 61 min), T Howe; D Humphreys (R O’Gara 72 min), G Easterby (P Stringer 72 min); R Corrigan, K Wood capt, (S Byrne ht) J Hayes (M Horan 61 min); G Longwell, P O’Connell (L Cullen 72 min); A Quinlan (E Miller 25 min), K Gleeson, A Foley.
New Zealand Divisional XV. T Manawatu; M Pettman, S Leung-Wai, M Harvey, P Fifita; M Flutey, L Peina capt; C Newland, P Mitchell, P Bielski; M Porter, K Leawere; D Quate, A Griffith, M Ngarimu.
Referee: S Walsh (NZ).