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Ireland Go Close Again

Ireland Go Close Again

Ireland again went close to grabbing a prized defeat of New Zealand but a 71st-minute try from out-half Luke McAlister rescued a 27-17 victory for the All Blacks in Auckland.

…Ireland are left dejected at the final whistle in Auckland…

Ireland again went close to grabbing a prized defeat of New Zealand but a 71st-minute try from out-half Luke McAlister rescued a 27-17 victory for the All Blacks in Auckland.

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NEW ZEALAND 27 IRELAND 17, Eden Park, Auckland

Scorers: New Zealand: Tries: Byron Kelleher, Clarke Dermody, Luke McAlister; Cons: McAlister 3; Pens: McAlister 2

Ireland: Tries: Paul O’Connell, Jerry Flannery; Cons: Ronan O’Gara 2; Pen: O’Gara

Full-Time – New Zealand 27 Ireland 17 – Another tight decision goes New Zealand’s way, no luck of the Irish in Auckland. A sterling effort from the Irish players in trying conditions. It says it all when you look down at the pitch at the final whistle and Ireland are on the attack, pushing for a third try, with the All Blacks out on their feet and breathless at the finish. New Zealand’s unbeaten record at Eden Park continues – but only just. You wonder what sort of game it would have been had the referee spotted Chris Jack’s knock on in the lead-up to Clarke Dermody’s try. Onwards to Perth and Australia next week, Eddie O’Sullivan’s men can take much heart from this second Test performance.

To score 20 points against the All Blacks, having gone 17-0 down, will give the Irish much heart for their crack at the Wallabies.

77 mins – Isaac Boss comes on to make his Ireland debut, replacing Peter Stringer. Mick O’Driscoll is also on for Neil Best, and there is a change at prop with Bryan Young gaining his first cap on the loosehead side.

71 mins – New Zealand try! Ireland cannot hold out – Byron Kelleher feeds Luke McAlister and he bulldozes through the tackle of Ronan O’Gara to get over for his side’s third try under the last-ditch challenge of Brian O’Driscoll. McAlister converts. New Zealand 27 Ireland 17.

68 mins – New Zealand are heaping pressure on Ireland as they take it up through the forwards. The pick and drive option could reap rewards for them. A Gordon D’Arcy tackle on Mils Muliaina on the right flank is again crucial in keeping the Kiwis out. Girvan Dempsey and Geordan Murphy combine to stop a drive on the short side, but both failed to roll away at ruck time. Penalty to the All Blacks – they opt for the scrum, 10 metres out from the Irish line.

64 mins – Girvan Dempsey comes back on, with Andrew Trimble making way.

60 mins – Ireland are still within three points as the hour mark comes up. A bout of kicking – with the All Blacks’ back three made to look particularly poor – ends with Andrew Trimble kicking out on the full. It is an unfortunate mistake but the Irish manage a turnover and defend their line.

55 mins – Ronan O’Gara tries a drop goal shot but it tails away. Ireland have a penalty anyway and they opt for the scrum. Another penalty is garnered, Denis Leamy shuns the shot at the posts and an O’Gara kick to the right corner for the leaping Shane Horgan almost comes off. Mils Muliaina does well to tackle the Leinster winger into touch.

51 mins – Ireland penalty! Ronan O’Gara lands the penalty. New Zealand 20 Ireland 17. Geordan Murphy is back on for Dempsey.

50 mins – Great play from Ireland, putting the pressure back on the All Blacks. A clever kick over the top from Peter Stringer forces Doug Howlett to run the ball from his own line, Joe Rokocoko is caught by a strong tackle from Andrew Trimble and knocks on. Scrum to Ireland. The ball is worked out to the left, just inside the New Zealand 22, Brian O’Driscoll takes it on and up the middle. Penalty to Ireland for a high tackle on the Irish skipper from Troy Flavell.

46 mins – Girvan Dempsey comes on for Geordan Murphy as a blood sub.

45 mins – Only great scrambling back from Gordon D’Arcy, who puts in a try-saving hit on Joe Rokocoko, keeps the All Blacks from adding to their tally. A move involving Luke McAlister, Aaron Mauger, Mils Muliaina and Rokocoko saw the hosts cut the Irish midfield open.

43 mins – Denis Leamy gives away a soft penalty as he is adjudged to have pulled Richie McCaw down in the lineout. Luke McAlister lines up a shot at the posts from over 40 metres but his effort is a weak one and drops under the posts.

Second Half – Kick-Off – Luke McAlister restarts with the rain still coming down.

…Paul O’Connell slides over for a great individual try…

Half-Time – New Zealand 20 Ireland 14 – It is a pity the first half is over as Ireland end it on the up with Brian O’Driscoll racing down the right flank and the Kiwis conceding a lineout after the Irish skipper chipped ahead. Joe Rokocoko showed signs that the home side are a little rattled as he got involved in some ‘afters’ with Marcus Horan following Flannery’s try. Rokocoko came off worse with a bloodied lip.

39 mins – Ireland try! This Test match is still up for grabs. The All Blacks concede a penalty – their eighth of the half – in their own 22. Ronan O’Gara kicks it to touch. Neil Best takes, but is hauled down by Troy Flavell. Another penalty and more pressure on the hosts. Jerry Flannery finds Paul O’Connell this time, Marcus Horan loops around to control the drive first up, Flannery then gets the ball in hand and the Irish pack produce an excellent shunt forward to get the hooker over for the score. Ronan O’Gara adds the difficult conversion from the right. New Zealand 20 Ireland 14.

35 mins – New Zealand penalty! The good work from the try is undone as poor discipline costs Ireland. Luke McAlister arrows over his second penalty from 35 metres out. New Zealand 20 Ireland 7.

31 mins – Ireland try! A brilliant reply from Ireland – positive rugby all the way despite the All Blacks having a 75% share of possession and territory for most of the opening half. A penalty over the Kiwi 22 is taken quickly, Gordon D’Arcy feeds Paul O’Connell and the giant lock breaks the tackle of Byron Kelleher, is hauled down but gets back up from the ruck and runs in unchallenged, with Geordan Murphy clearing out well at the ruck and Aaron Mauger’s defence badly exposed. Ronan O’Gara converts from in front of the posts. New Zealand 17 Ireland 7.

28 mins – New Zealand try! Prop Clarke Dermody scores in only his second Test appearance. He squeezes over from close range after a concerted drive from the All Blacks pack, although there was a clear knock on from Chris Jack in the phase before the try. Referee Jonathan Kaplan fails to spot it despite Peter Stringer’s protestations. Luke McAlister adds the extras. New Zealand 17 Ireland 0.

23 mins – New Zealand penalty! Luke McAlister boots his first penalty of the evening. Jerry Flannery threw over the grasp of Paul O’Connell at a lineout in Ireland’s half and both Denis Leamy and Neil Best were offside at a subsequent ruck. McAlister makes no mistake from 30 metres out. New Zealand 10 Ireland 0.

22 mins – Only a tackle, metres from his own line, from Brian O’Driscoll prevents New Zealand from getting in for try number two. Byron Kelleher broke free off a scrum and made 20 metres, but Ireland, thanks to O’Driscoll, force the turnover. Stirring stuff from O’Driscoll.

19 mins – Ever the willing runner, Geordan Murphy is wrapped up in a textbook double tackle from Carl Hayman and Rodney So’oialo. The physicality of the encounter is immense.

18 mins – Ireland rumble forward with Gordon D’Arcy breaking two tackles. Ronan O’Gara flights the ball over to the right corner where Paul O’Connell is lurking. The ball goes into touch fives metres from the home line but a Richie McCaw lineout take sees the pressure off the All Blacks.

15 mins – Shane Horgan goes in well on Troy Flavell to force a turnover on the Irish 22. The ball squirts forward and it’s a scrum to Ireland. Number eight Denis Leamy scores some psychological points as he breaks off the scrum and hands off Jerome Kaino on a 15-metre burst.

11 mins – The signs are not good as Ireland have made three handling errors in the opening few minutes, against none from the All Blacks. The rain is pelting down now – a Byron Kelleher kick brings play into the Irish 22. However Ireland win the lineout, regroup and a great pick-up from Geordan Murphy sends play back into the hosts’ half.

6 mins – New Zealand try! Scrum half Byron Kelleher dives over under the tackle of John Hayes to bag the opening try for the home side. Geordan Murphy was turned over in midfield, the All Blacks worked the ball forward, won lineout ball and after a couple of close-in drives, Kelleher popped over. Referee Jonathan Kaplan sought confirmation of the grounding from the TV match official. Luke McAlister adds the conversion. New Zealand 7 Ireland 0.

3 minutes – Ronan O’Gara has an early shot at the posts. Clarke Dermody is pinged for a ruck offence over halfway as Marcus Horan tried to make the hard yards. O’Gara’s kick is just short. The kicking conditions are good with a firm top surface.

Kick-Off – Ronan O’Gara gets play underway with Keven Mealamu gathering in the kick. The greasy conditions will have a big say on how both sides settle.

Pre-Match – Ireland are unchanged for this renewal with the All Blacks. Full-back Geordan Murphy has shaken off an Achilles tendon strain to start with the same seven players on the replacements bench from last week.

New Zealand have opted to make three changes – Casey Laulala, whose one and only previous cap was against Wales in November 2004, links up with his Crusaders team mate Aaron Mauger in midfield, Troy Flavell, a try scorer as a replacement in the first Test, comes in at lock while Jerome Kaino, the IRB Under-21 World Player of the Year in 2004, takes over as blindside flanker. Ma’a Nonu, Greg Rawlinson and Marty Holah make way.

Ireland are still searching for their first ever win against the All Blacks after 18 defeats and a draw. It will not be easy as the New Zealanders are unbeaten at Eden Park in their last 13 outings there – a run which stretches back to 1993.

Kiwi coach Graham Henry is homing in on an 18th consecutive home win which would equal the All Blacks’ longest unbeaten run at home, set from 1994 to 1998.

The conditions are wet and windy as Sean Kelly, who is orginally from Derry city, belts out ‘Ireland’s Call.’ Kelly has been living in New Zealand for the past 16 years and his album ‘See The Light’ was included in the best folk category for this year’s New Zealand Music Awards.

The New Zealand anthem and haka follow.

NEW ZEALAND: Mils Muliaina; Doug Howlett, Casey Laulala, Aaron Mauger, Joe Rokocoko; Luke McAlister, Byron Kelleher; Clarke Dermody, Keven Mealamu, Carl Hayman, Chris Jack, Troy Flavell, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (capt), Rodney So’oialo.

Replacements used: Greg Rawlinson for Flavell (55 mins), Craig Newby for Kaino, Neemia Tialata for Dermody (both 67), Andrew Hore for Mealamu, David Hill for McAlister (both 76). Not used: Jimmy Cowan, Ma’a Nonu.

IRELAND: Geordan Murphy; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Gordon D’Arcy, Andrew Trimble; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Neil Best, David Wallace, Denis Leamy.

Replacements used: Girvan Dempsey for Murphy (46-52 mins, blood sub), Girvan Dempsey for Trimble (64), Bryan Young for Horan (72), Mick O’Driscoll for Best (76), Isaac Boss for Stringer (77). Not used: Rory Best, Keith Gleeson, Denis Hickie.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Touch Judges: Matt Goddard, Brett Bowden (both Australia)

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