Ireland's hopes of first ever NZ victory dashed by 60-0 loss
A week after snatching an undeserved 22-19 victory from Ireland, the All Blacks were back to their accurate, high-octane, best on Saturday with new blood to the fore.
Ireland had equal territory and possession in the first half but the All Blacks led 29-0 at the break and then piled on 31-points more in the second half as they feasted on turnover ball.
The praise from both sides was the rare feat of keeping the opposition scoreless.
“A lot of times when you see games with high scores your defence goes but tonight the team showed discipline right through the game to defend well and that’s all credit to them,” said New Zealand coach Steve Hansen.
“We’ve got some talent in the side that can do damage to a lot of teams.”
Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll, who has played the All Blacks 13 times, rated the All Blacks’ performance in the third and final Test of the series as one of the best he has faced.
“They were hurting from last week and they certainly put that right. Being able to keep a team scoreless is pretty impressive,” he said.
“They were dominating the breakdown and that’s the winning or losing of Test matches. They smashed us today.”
The result left the Irish distraught, and their dream of ending the tour on a high with a first ever win over the All Blacks was transformed into a nightmare.
Any fears the All Blacks may have had playing without injured stars Dan Carter and Kieran Read were quickly dispelled, as their fledgling replacements Aaron Cruden and Sam Cane proved to be two of the most influential players.
Cruden made a mockery of Ireland plans to target his channel, with the 23-year-old setting up four tries in the opening 25-minutes before he limped out of the game.
Cane (20) in only his second Test and playing in the number seven jersey of Richie McCaw who moved to the backrow as Read’s replacement, produced tackling and turnover skills that broke Irish hearts.
Ireland were not without opportunities but inaccurate passing and handling lapses cost them dear.
Fergus McFadden was denied a scoring opportunity when an O’Driscoll pass floated into touch, and a promising backline move resulted in the All Blacks racing 70 metres for a try after a Paddy Wallace pass went to ground.
Ireland were out of the game halfway through the first half when Cruden engineered four tries.
A flick out of the back of his hand put Cane over to open the scoring and he then ran through a defensive wall that was meant to smother him to set Sonny Bill Williams in the clear for his first try.
Williams second try was off an inside pass from Cruden running on the angle, and the number 10 then latched on to a wayward pass by Wallace to ignite the dash which saw Ben Smith score in the corner.
Cruden then limped from the field opening the way for 21-year-old Beauden Barrett to make his debut and he was soon on the board with a sideline penalty for the All Blacks going into the break.
When play resumed, Liam Messam and scrum-half Aaron Smith put Cane in for his second try.
From a lineout on their own line the All Blacks elected to run themselves out of trouble and the length-of-the-field counter saw Hosea Gear steamroll over Keith Earls for the five points.
With the All Blacks in such command, coach Steve Hansen elected to rest his senior lock Sam Whitelock, putting Brodie Retallick on the field for his third test and partnering debutant Luke Romano in the middle row.
The impact was three further tries as Messam, Israel Dagg and Adam Thomson all found their way to the line.—Sapa.