Although they never let their heads drop, the Ireland Under-20s simply had no answer to the pace and power of New Zealand in the sides’ pool game at the IRB Junior World Championship in Cardiff on Tuesday. The Baby Blacks ran out 65-10 winners as they continued their quest for back-to-back World titles.
2008 IRB JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – POOL A: Tuesday, June 10
NEW ZEALAND 65 IRELAND 10, Cardiff Arms Park
Scorers: New Zealand: Tries: Kade Poki 2, Quentin MacDonald, Luke Braid, Sean Maitland, Grayson Hart, Andre Taylor 3; Cons: Trent Renata 5, Daniel Kirkpatrick 2; Pens: Trent Renata 2
Ireland: Try: Patrick Mallon; Con: Ian Porter; Pen: Ian Porter
The victory sets up an exciting final round in Pool A with New Zealand and Argentina set to go head-to-head for a place in the semi-finals.
For Eric Elwood’s Ireland squad, this was a harsh lesson but a valuable one against arguably the best players in the world at this age grade.
All they can do is bounce back and be better players for this gutsy 80-plus minutes’ effort against New Zealand. Their recovery from this heavy defeat will begin on Saturday against Tonga.
Elwood said afterwards: “New Zealand are a very good side and they play their game with a lot of width and a lot of pace and if you make basic errors against them you will be punished.
“We paid the price for missing tackles and making mistakes. In Test match rugby, all those small things count.
“Tonga now is a must-win game and we are looking at that now. We’ll have to regroup quickly.”
Though Ireland got off to a good start with a fine break from Niall Morris and an early penalty from Ian Porter, New Zealand were always in control as they combined slick passing and offloading out wide with an abrasive work ethic up front to romp to a comfortable win.
Trent Renata’s first penalty set New Zealand on their way and the highly-rated Kade Poki used his electric pace to nab the game’s first try minutes later.
Centres Jackson Willison and Ryan Crotty were finding plenty of holes in Ireland’s defence as the New Zealanders attacked at every opportunity and another Renata penalty gave the tournament favourites a strong advantage.
New Zealand showed they have as much power as they have pace when hooker Quentin MacDonald was at the end of a superb driving maul and his team kept the scores coming thick and fast with further first half tries from Luke Braid and Sean Maitland.
Ireland, who trailed by 34-3 at the break, displayed more intensity on the restart as they held plenty of possession early in the second half.
But when Poki slid over for his second try, the game well and truly over as a contest.
Another perfect kick through from Maitland put Grayson Hart over as the scores racked up.
Elwood’s side never gave up and they finally breached the New Zealand line when number 8 Patrick Mallon barged his way over with Porter converting to give his side a healthier return on the scoreboard.
However, New Zealand had the last say when replacement winger Andre Taylor, who came on for Poki, ran in three brilliant late tries to push the Baby Blacks well past the 50-point barrier.
Centre Eoin O’Malley, who captained Ireland with regular skipper Paul Ryan benched, was left rueing his side’s error count.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match against New Zealand but a loss like that is something we didn’t expect,” he admitted.
“We had looked at this game as one we could challenge in but unfortunately we made too many mistakes and missed too many first-up tackles.”
Commenting on the game after the final whistle, New Zealand coach Dave Rennie said: “We’re very happy with the intensity of how we played tonight.
“We had a good look at Ireland and they were unlucky not to beat Argentina and we were aware they would throw a lot at us.
“Argentina are our next challenge and they had a good win over Tonga (in their second match) and we know they’ll try and keep us pretty narrow but we’ll be ready for them.”
TIME LINE: 7 minutes – Ireland penalty: Ian Porter – 0-3; 9 mins – New Zealand penalty: Trent Renata – 3-3; 13 mins – New Zealand try: Kade Poki – 8-3; conversion: Trent Renata – 10-3; 22 mins – New Zealand penalty: Trent Renata – 13-3; 24 mins – New Zealand try: Quentin MacDonald – 18-3; conversion: Trent Renata – 20-3; 27 mins – New Zealand try: Luke Braid – 25-3; conversion: Trent Renata – 27-3; 34 mins – New Zealand try: Sean Maitland – 32-3; conversion: Trent Renata – 34-4; Half-time – New Zealand 34 Ireland 3; 49 mins – New Zealand try: Kadie Poki – 39-3; conversion: missed by Trent Renata – 39-3; 52 mins – New Zealand try: Grayson Hart – 44-3; conversion: Trent Renata – 46-3; 65 mins – Ireland try: Patrick Mallon – 46-8; conversion: Ian Porter – 46-10; 69 mins – New Zealand try: Andre Taylor – 51-10; conversion: Daniel Kirkpatrick – 53-10; 73 mins – New Zealand try: Andre Taylor – 58-10; conversion: missed by Daniel Kirkpatrick – 58-10; 80 mins – New Zealand try: Andre Taylor – 63-10; conversion: Daniel Kirkpatrick – 65-10; Full-time – New Zealand 65 Ireland 10
NEW ZEALAND: Zac Guildford; Kade Poki, Jackson Willison, Ryan Crotty (capt), Sean Maitland; Trent Renata, Grayson Hart; Rodney Ah You, Quentin MacDonald, Ben Afeaki, Sam Whitelock, Josh Townsend, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Nasi Manu.
Replacements used: Hugh Reed for Braid (45 mins), Aaron Smith for Hart (55), Ash Dixon for MacDonald, Toby Smith for Afeaki, Chris Smith for Townsend (all 61), Daniel Kirkpatrick for Renata, Andre Taylor for Poki (both 68).
IRELAND: Niall Morris (Blackrock College/Leinster); Sean Scanlon (UCC/Munster), Eoin O’Malley (Old Belvedere/Leinster) (capt), Conor Cleary (Greystones/Leinster), Eamonn Sheridan (Lansdowne/Leinster); Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Ian Porter (Queen’s University/Ulster); Paul Karayiannis (Queen’s University/Ulster), Jason Harris-Wright (Greystones/Leinster), Ben Barclay (UCD/Leinster), James Sandford (Queen’s University/Ulster), Ian Nagle (UCC/Munster), Kieran Essex (UL Bohemians/Munster), Michael Entwistle (Ballymena/Ulster), Patrick Mallon (Lansdowne/Leinster).
Replacements used: Paul Ryan (Blackrock College/Leinster) for Entwistle, Martin Dufficy (Dublin University/Leinster) for Madigan (both half-time), Ciaran Ruddock (Neath/Exiles) for Sansford (54 mins), Stephen Douglas (Ballymena/Ulster) for Harris-Wright, Jamie Smith (Ballymena/Ulster) for Sheridan (both 66), Stephen Archer (UCC/Munster) for Barclay, David Moore (Blackrock College/Leinster) for Porter (both 70).
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)