All Blacks thrash Ireland, Savea stars
Powerful young winger Julian Savea – often compared with rugby great Jonah Lomu – scored three blockbusting tries as the All Blacks destroyed Ireland with a 42-10 victory at Eden Park on Saturday.
The runaway win shattered any illusions Ireland had of pulling off a historic first win over the All Blacks in the 107-year history of internationals between the two countries.
In their first outing since winning the World Cup last October, and with a new head coach in Steve Hansen, the All Blacks ran in five tries to one.
Savea, 21, a former IRB junior player of the year, is 1.92 metres and 103 kilograms, and with his strength and speed he proved a constant threat down the left wing during what was his first Test appearance.
He was only denied two more tries by desperate defence from Ireland fullback Rob Kearney.
All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith also produced an outstanding debut with his rapid service keeping the backline moving, and he received a standing ovation when he was substituted with 25 minutes remaining.
Hansen, who described Smith as “simply outstanding”, said there was still considerable room for improvement.
“There were a couple of tries we blew,” he said.
“We started the week out with one purpose and that was to have a performance we could be proud of and we’ve got to be proud of what we did under the circumstances of first time coming together. But, clearly there’s still a lot we can work on.”
Ireland had opportunities, particularly in the first half when Jamie Heaslip, Keith Earls and Simon Zebo all went close, only to be tipped up in finger-tip defensive plays by Israel Dagg and Richie McCaw.
Ireland’s only try came from a long kick downfield when winger Fergus McFadden outsprinted McCaw in a 50-metre race for the ball.
All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter, who finished with a match haul of 17 points, started the scoring early with a third minute penalty, which was matched immediately by Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton.
With the All Blacks slow to find their cohesion, Ireland spent long periods on attack in the first 15 minutes but started to lose their impetus when Carter landed two penalties in quick succession from about 50 metres out.
Ireland held out a series of All Blacks pick and goes for about five minutes before Sonny Bill Williams and Carter combined to send Savea away for his first try.
His second try, just before half-time, came from a smart blindside move orchestrated by Smith.
Israel Dagg set up Savea’s third try just after the break to put the All Blacks out to a 30-3 lead before McFadden found the line for Ireland.
The All Blacks responded immediately, working their way up to the Irish line where Kieran Read took the short side from a scrum near the posts and flicked the ball to an unmarked Adam Thomson.
As the rain came down in the dying minutes of the game, replacement back Aaron Cruden opened a gap for Conrad Smith to score the final try and for the All Blacks to extend their winning run at Eden Park to 28 Tests, dating back to 1994.
They also maintained their 107-year record of never losing to Ireland and showed a domination that did not augur well for the northern hemisphere side in the remaining two Tests.
The second Test is in Christchurch next Saturday and the final Test is in Hamilton a week later.© AFP 2013
Sport, all day long. Does this sound too good to be true? We're searching for a Group Sales Manager to lead our team in Sydney. If you're a sales star who doesn't mind a hit, kick, throw, or cycle, we want to hear from you. Apply now.
Have you seen the new Wallabies jersey? Want one of your own? We're giving away a brand new 2013 Wallabies jersey to one lucky Roarer, click here to go in the running to win.