Ireland ‘A’ bowed out of the race for the grand prize at the Churchill Cup as the New Zealand Maori ran in four tries in the Pool B decider in Santa Clara.
BARCLAYS CHURCHILL CUP: POOL B: Saturday, June 10
IRELAND ‘A’ 6 NEW ZEALAND MAORI 27, Buck Shaw Stadium (Att: 4,000)
Scorers: Ireland ‘A’: Pen: Paddy Wallace; Drop: Robert Kearney
NZ Maori: Tries: Shannon Paku, Liam Messam, Hosea Gear, Thomas Waldrom; Cons: Callum Bruce, Matt Berquist; Pen: Bruce
Full-time – Ireland ‘A’ 6 New Zealand Maori 27. The Maori end the game on the attack – their ability to take their chances has come to the fore, but the scoreline is a flattering one. Michael Bradley’s men can hold their heads high though – they put it up to the Maori but fell away in an ill-disciplined finish. Next Saturday in Edmonton, the Irish have a tasty tie against England Saxons, the Pool A runners-up, to look forward to. The Maori face Scotland ‘A’ in the final.
80 mins – With the Irish out on their feet, Damien Browne, Brian Blaney and Declan Fitzpatrick are brought on from the bench. Worryingly Robert Kearney, after a number of minutes on the ground, is forced to hobble off with what looks like head/neck injury.
77 mins – New Zealand Maori try! The Maori round out the win with another five points. Liam Messam again is the catalyst but his pass to try scorer Thomas Waldrom looked decidedly forward. The officials failed to spot it and it is a bonus point score for the Kiwis. Churchill Cup man-of-the-match Messam retires with Jake Paringatati on in his place. Matt Berquist misses the conversion – it hits an upright and bounces away. Ireland ‘A’ 6 NZ Maori 27.
76 mins – With the result seemingly in the bag, the Maori empty their bench with Cory Jane on for Anthony Tahana. Corey Tamou is also in at scrum half for Chris Smylie.
74 mins – New Zealand Maori try! The Maori make full use of the wide open expanses of the Buck Shaw stadium pitch with it being 13-a-side. Eoghan Hickey’s up-and-under comes to nothing, Liam Messam gathers it and tears back into the Irish half. His clever kick off the right side of his boot is bouncing for someone to take it on and winger Hosea Gear is the man as he gobbles up possession and slips through the tackles of O’Leary and Kearney to touch down. Replacement Matt Berquist, on for Callum Bruce, slots the conversion. Ireland ‘A’ 6 NZ Maori 22.
71 mins – The game is threatening to boil over as Tom Court gets a cut below his left eye, prompting Jamie Heaslip to seek retribution and the Leinster number eight gets involved with a scuffle with Maori loosehead Joe McDonnell. Both are sent to the sin bin as is replacement prop Mike Noble for his clash with Court. So it is uncontested scrums for the remainder of normal time.
70 mins – Disaster strikes for Ireland ‘A’ as flanker Roger Wilson is red carded by English referee Andrew Small for a needless headbutt at a ruck. Small told the Ulster he had ‘led with’ his head when going in to clear out a ruck. The television replays clearly pick up the incident and it is a sorry end to the game for Wilson.
67 mins – Bryn Cunningham is replaced in the Irish backline by Eoghan Hickey. Robert Kearney goes to full-back.
64 mins – Callum Bruce shows some nerves as he misses a straight-on penalty attempt from the Irish 22-metre line.
62 mins – Thomas Waldrom is on for the Maori for lock Kristian Ormsby.
60 mins – Paddy Wallace agonisingly misses another penalty chance – but this time from all of halfway. Maori prop Mike Noble, on as a replacement for Deacon Manu, hit Jamie Heaslip with a high tackle. With a slight breeze behind him, Wallace goes for the posts but his kick drifts to the right and wide. He had the distance.
55 mins – There is a change at loosehead prop for Ireland ‘A’ – Ronan McCormack is on for Ray Hogan.
52 mins – The Maori try to shore up their lineout difficulties by bringing on Luke Mahoney for Scott Linklater.
50 mins – Paddy Wallace misses a lengthy penalty attempt. Ireland regroup and a great break involving Tomas O’Leary, Simon Keogh and Trevor Hogan, who hands off his opposite number Paul Tito, takes play into the Maori 22. The chance is missed as Matt McCullough is bundled into touch.
46 mins – New Zealand Maori penalty! Callum Bruce cancels out Kearney’s drop goal with a penalty from close range. The Irish management bring Tomas O’Leary on for Chris Keane at scrum half. Ireland ‘A’ 6 NZ Maori 15.
42 mins – Ireland drop goal! Robert Kearney strikes over an outstanding drop goal from just outside the Maori ten-metre line. A series of attacks were swatted away – Jamie Heaslip failed to make the most of a chance in the left corner. The ball was thumped back out towards halfway and Kearney retreated to gather it and almost effortlessly whack over the drop. Ireland ‘A’ 6 NZ Maori 12.
Second Half – Kick-Off – Paddy Wallace restarts and Ireland manage to get good field position as the Maori’s start to the second half is an error-strewn one.
Half-Time – Ireland ‘A’ 3 New Zealand Maori 12. A good effort from the Irish to put their first points on the board – Heaslip, Matt McCullough in the lineout and Keane have led the Irish charge in the first half.
40+4 mins – Ireland penalty! Paddy Wallace boosts the men in green before the interval. After earning a penalty in their own 22, the Maori cough up possession as scrum half Chris Smylie is pinged for not releasing after some great work from Jamie Heaslip. Wallace knocks over the kick from the right side, 25 metres out. Ireland ‘A’ 3 NZ Maori 12.
34 mins – Shane Jennings is back on – with a blue scrum cap. Ireland are deep in Maori territory with a lineout fives metre from the try line. Trevor Hogan passes off the top of the lineout for Chris Keane to dart through a gap, a try looks on but Deacon Manu hauls down the Connacht man. The Irish have two more phases but the Maori keep them out.
31 mins – New Zealand Maori try! Number eight Liam Messam powers over for an excellent individual try. The Waikato Chiefs forward took a quick tap on the Irish 22 and broke the first tackle, which produced a clash of heads between David Quinlan and Chris Keane. Using great leg power, Messam continued on his run with Jamie Heaslip just failing to keep him out. Callum Bruce converts. Ireland ‘A’ 0 NZ Maori 12.
23 mins – Shane Jennings is off again with blood seeping from a head wound. Neil McMillan is back on.
21 mins – A loose ball from the Maori is gathered in by David Quinlan who has a clear 40 metres ahead of him but a mis-timed pass, nudged off a Maori hand, fails to find support runner Simon Keogh. Shane Jennings returns to the fray.
19 mins – A quick dart through the Irish midfield by hooker Scott Linklater brings play up to the Irish 22. The Maori number 2 puts in an ill-advised chip ahead, allowing Ireland ‘A’ to gain a quick turnover. Paddy Wallace leaps onto the loose ball but gets a bone-crunching hit from Maori lock Kristian Ormsby for his troubles. The Ulster man shakes himself off and continues.
15 mins – Great midfield break from outside centre Kieran Lewis. He really shows his pace and makes 35 metres. But the Maori regroup well and captain Jono Gibbes puts in a piledriver of a tackle on replacement Neil McMillan.
11 mins – New Zealand Maori try! One sniff and the Maori are in for the opening try. Ireland’s good start is undone as a 70-metre break sees full-back Shannon Paku get in at the left corner. Winger Hosea Gear made the initial dent in the Irish defence and he released in time for Paku to fly down the left flank and in past the last-gasp challenge of Robert Kearney, who had hared over from the other wing. Callum Bruce misses the conversion. Ireland ‘A’ 0 NZ Maori 5.
8 mins – Neil McMillan is on as a blood replacement. Irish skipper Shane Jennings is off for repairs.
5 mins – A very good spell for the Irish. John Fogarty fails to find his man at a lineout but prop Tom Court does well to grab the loose throw. Jamie Heaslip bulldozes up through the middle, setting up field position. The next phase see out-half Paddy Wallace sniping brilliantly down the right wing, Heaslip is again involved. Keane’s passing is snappy, but a knock on ruins the attack with the Irish camped on the Maori 22-metre line.
1 minute – A strong maul drive sets Ireland ‘A’ up for a penalty. Maori captain Jono Gibbes is the offender. It’s too far out from goal, and the subsequent move comes to nothing.
Kick-Off – Callum Bruce starts the game with Matt McCullough plucking the kick out of the sky for the Irish.
IRELAND ‘A’: Bryn Cunningham; Simon Keogh, Kieran Lewis, David Quinlan, Robert Kearney; Paddy Wallace, Chris Keane; Ray Hogan, John Fogarty, Tom Court, Trevor Hogan, Matt McCullough, Roger Wilson, Shane Jennings (capt), Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Brian Blaney, Declan Fitzpatrick, Damien Browne, Neil McMillan, Tomas O’Leary, Eoghan Hickey, Ronan McCormack.
NEW ZEALAND MAORI: Shannon Paku; Anthony Tahana, Richard Kahui, Neil Brew, Hosea Gear; Callum Bruce, Chris Smylie; Joe McDonnell, Scott Linklater, Deacon Manu, Kristian Ormsby, Paul Tito, Jono Gibbes (capt), Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam.
Replacements: Luke Mahoney, Mike Noble, Thomas Waldrom, Jake Paringatati, Corey Tamou, Matt Berquist, Cory Jane.
Referee: Andrew Small (England)
Touch judges: Peter Allen (Scotland), Phil Smith (Canada)