New Zealand blast past Ireland in series opener

First Test

New Zealand 42-19 Ireland

A quick three-try blast was crucial as New Zealand took a 1-0 series lead vs Ireland at Eden Park, winning 42-19 against the luckless visitors.

Ireland, who have never won against the All Blacks in New Zealand, made the better start to the Test and dominated the opening half hour as Keith Earls scored early.

Andy Farrell’s team failed to add to that score, however, as full-back Jordie Barrett struck, before wing Sevu Reece critically intercepted deep in his 22 as Ireland looked to get over, before sprinting virtually the length of the pitch.

Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton was forced to depart after that score on 30 minutes, as a slip saw his head collide with the knee of Sam Cane, before he failed a HIA.

Sevu Reece’s intercept try was arguably the turning point of the game.

The All Blacks then scored twice in two minutes through centre Quinn Tupaea and No 8 Ardie Savea, and though Garry Ringrose replied for Ireland early in the second half, they had further Joey Carbery and Josh van der Flier tries ruled out by the TMO after last-gasp interventions by Rieko Ioane on both occasions.

Savea grabbed his second, before replacement Pita Gus Sowakula scored on his Test debut, and Bundee Aki grabbed Ireland’s third to complete the scoring.

Munster wing Earls got the tourists off to a dream start inside six minutes by capping an outstanding team move after 17 phases to claim his 35th international try at the end of patient, sustained pressure.

The All Blacks hit back with their first attack of the game as full-back Jordie Barrett crashed over on 21 minutes after wing Leicester Faingaanuku had made good ground down the left.

Keith Earls scored the opening try for Ireland on six minutes.

The key try of the contest followed as though Ireland continued to dictate much of the play, a Ringrose spillage and James Lowe slip when camped deep in the All Blacks 22 in search of the lead again allowed Reece to pick up and run the length for a 14-5 lead.

With scores against the run of play settling them into the game, the ultra-clinical All Blacks soon swiftly punished their visitors further, with quick-fire tries from Tupaea – after a Beauden Barrett kick ahead – and Savea – after smart work at pace by Aaron Smith – stretching the scoreboard.

Jordie Barrett also continued to be perfect from the kicking tee – landing all six conversions in victory.

Ireland were given brief hope of an unlikely fightback when Ringrose atoned for the error which led to Reece’s try early in the second period by scoring in the corner off a Lowe offload, as they made a positive start to the half again.

Joey Carbery was denied a try by the TMO in the second half.

Carbery converted magnificently off the touchline but defensive lapses allowed Savea to romp over for his second, slipping past three tackles and ending the result as a contest at 35-12 with just over 20 minutes to play.

Twice Ireland looked to have scored tries thereafter, but both Carbery and Van der Flier were denied after reviews – Carbery particularly unlucky as replays seemed to show downward pressure being applied as he touched down.

It just left Fiji-born replacement Sowakula to spring over at pace following a scrum near the Ireland line, and Ireland midfielder Aki to have the final say as he powered over after more lengthy phase-play.

Ireland are next in action for their second Test of the three-Test series vs the All Blacks in a week’s time on Saturday, July 9, with an 8.05am kick off.

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