John Mitchell’s All Blacks put the disappointment of Carisbrook firmly behind them with a 40-8 victory over Ireland at Eden Park in Auckland.
And while there can be no denying them the merit of their victory the final scorline does little justice to an Ireland side who dominated the first half but didn’t have the points to show for their considerable effort.
In that opening half Ireland dominated territorially only allowing the All Blacks out of their own half occasionally. Once again the pressure game they played unsettled the home side who knocked on ball with Jonah Lomu and Caleb Ralph brings gasps of astonishment from the packed stands.
Ireland’s only reward was a Brian O’Driscoll drop goal before two Andrew Mehrtens penalties pushed the home side in front. But just as they had done in Dunedin, with five minutes of the half remaining, the All Blacks fashioned a superb try.
From a lineout, they spread the ball wide, Aaron Mauger threw the faintest of dummies, then raced clear before sending Leon MacDonald galloping for the line and try beside the posts (13-3).
Ireland had a quick chance to reduce the deficit but O’Gara was wide from a good position and another long range effort from the number 10 flew left of the post and wide.
The first score of the second half was always going to be crucial and when the Blacks came looking for it Girvan Dempsey and Justin Bishop stood firm. Dempsey first did well to track back and pick and clear with Lomu threatening to pick him up and carry him over the line. Then he took a Mehrtens sky rocket, marking’ the ball confidently. Moments later, Bishop brought off a wonderful tackle on the thundering Lomu.
But in the 48th minute the Irish defence was cracked when MacDonald appeared outside Lomu, breached the gain line and sent Caleb Ralph over in the corner. The conversion from Mehrtens came off the outside of the upright but now the Blacks were fifteen points clear (18-3) and very much on the front foot.
Mehrtens kicked a penalty in the 58th minute but Ireland refused to buckle and from the restart, after a good O’Driscoll surge, and a second wave led by Keith wood, Gary Longwell crashed over on the right hand side(21-8).
Byron Kelleher replaced Justin Marshall in the 65th minute and with his second touch, he scored their third try. (28-8).
The pressure was all on the Irish now but they were reduced to fourteen when replacement Alan Quinlan was sin-binned very soon after replacing Keith Gleeson. Marty Holah scored in the 77th minute, Mehrtens missed the conversion but had a simple tap over after Leon MacDonald scored under the posts to bring the Blacks up to forty points.
Ireland.G Dempsey; G Murphy, B O’Driscoll, J Kelly, J Bishop; R O’Gara (D Humphreys 67 min), P Stringer; R Corrigan P Wallace 75 min), K Wood capt S Byrne 79 min), J Hayes; G Longwell, M O’Kelly (L Cullen 72 min); S Easterby, K Gleeson (Quinlan 68 min), A Foley;
New Zealand. L MacDonald; C Ralph (D Howlett 67 min), M Robinson D Gibson 67), A Mauger, J Lomu; A Mehrtens, J Marshall (B Kelleher 65 min); D Hewett (J McDonnell 65 min), M Hammett, G Somerville; C Jack, N Maxwell; R Thorne capt. R McCaw (M Holah), S Robertson