Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ruthless All Blacks repel fisty Irish

All Blacks kicking machine Dan Carter will have to wait until next weekend before breaking Jonny Wilkinson's world record after missing a late conversion in this morning's 38-18 win over Ireland.

Carter, judged the man of the match, amassed 18 points with four penalties and three conversions at Aviva Stadium but was unable to equal Wilkinson's total of 1178 when his conversion of Kieran Read's second try sailed outside the posts. It was his first miss of the night.

The annoyed All Blacks first five-eighth tossed the kicking tee away with frustration but, barring injury or illness during the week, he is set to snap Wilkinson's total against Wales in Cardiff next weekend as the tourists look to secure the grand slam.

While Carter will have to wait to set the record, new ground had already been broken by captain Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina who appeared in a record 93 tests for the All Blacks.
This was also the 100th test win for Graham Henry, who began coaching on the international stage with Wales in 1998.

Pre-match fears the Irish would be ground to mincemeat by the All Blacks juggernaut that humiliated Scotland 49-3 last weekend proved to be ill-founded as the locals rolled up their sleeves and ripped into their work like men possessed.

Instead of tossing aside their swords and throwing up their arms in surrender as the Scots had done in Edinburgh, the Irish flew at their opponents in all facets before succumbing to a side that just had too much attacking polish.

They banged-up the Kiwis in the rucks, using their physicality to free quick ball and continually looked for space through quick passing near the rucks and near the touch lines.

Yet for all Ireland's attacks, the All Blacks defensive screens remained resolute during a frantic final quarter in which their opponents, led by No 8 Jamie Heaslip and captain Brian O'Driscoll, dominated territory and kept the pressure valve twisted wide open.

Later today, maybe, the All Blacks will reflect on Cory Jane's flying tackle on the diving Keith Earls as the moment that they finally snuffed the life out of the Irish.

Having dived at the line in the 75th minute, the replacement fullback Earls lost the ball as Jane blasted into him, the All Blacks cleared their line and in the final moments No 8 Kieran Read scored his second try.

Tries to Read and replacement lock Sam Whitelock nine minutes inside the second half had the Irish eyes rolling with frustration as their deficit ballooned from six points to 20 and, in the end, these were to prove mortal blows to their hopes of grabbing their first ever win over the New Zealanders.

Read's five-pointer followed a fine pass by loose forward partner Jerome Kaino, who slipped the transfer away under defensive heat by Heaslip and Luke Fitzgerald, before Whitelock slipped through three tackles four minutes later.

Fittingly it was one of Ireland's bravest, and greatest, players, O'Driscoll who swept over for the host's reply; the midfielder proved why fears his career is on the wane are proving premature when he skilfully swept a loose pass off the deck with one paw and barged his way across.

During the week the warning lights were blinking inside the Irish camp as the danger of the New Zealanders' attack was repeatedly flagged to them from all angles.

Having absorbed this information, the Irish then vowed to give the tourists a healthy dose of their own medicine from the get-go.

Finally their reward came on the half-hour and the 46,302-strong crowd roared into full voice when blindside flanker Stephen Ferris exploded on to a short ball from Heaslip to whistle through a gap between McCaw and Carter.

Having relied on Carter's boot to keep their scoreboard ticking over - he slotted his fourth penalty in the 34th minute - the All Blacks' attack finally struck the jackpot when lock Anthony Boric scored in the 40th minute to calm Henry's nerves.

A concerted All Blacks attack stretched the Irish defence down the right flank and having spotted daylight, the second rower's peepers lit-up like lamps and he jammed the accelerator down and motored through replacement hooker Sean Cronin's tackle.
What would Wales be thinking after watching this?

Having drawn 16-all with Fiji yesterday morning, captain Ryan Jones was immediately sacked in the changing sheds by coach Warren Gatland.
We'll know next week.

All Blacks 38 (Kieran Read 2, Anthony Boric, Sam Whitelock tries; Daniel Carter 4 pen 3 con)
Ireland 18 (Stephen Ferris, Brian O'Driscoll tries; Jonathan Sexton 2 pen con)
Halftime: 19-13

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