Match Centre: New Zealand 42-19 Ireland

Aride Savea scored two tries for New Zealand
Aride Savea scored two tries for New Zealand

New Zealand 42-19 Ireland, Eden Park

Ardie Savea scored a double as New Zealand overcame Covid setback to defeat Ireland 42-19 in the opening Test against Ireland at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

The All Blacks had head coach Ian Foster and his assistants Greg Feek, John Plumtree and Scott McLeod along with players Will Jordan, David Havili and Jack Goodhue ruled out of the encounter after testing positive for Covid-19.

Ireland’s Finlay Bealham also had tested positive for Covid as Cian Healy took his place.

Ireland were the first to open their account as they launched an attack after winning a penalty for offside as Dan Sheenan and Hugo Keenan combined to send Keith Earls over the line in the 7th minute before the home side responded back at the end of the opening quarter with Leicester Fainga’anuku on his debut sending a clever pass for Jordie Barrett to touchdown.

As Beauden Barrett kicked the extras, New Zealand made it 7-5 and shortly they doubled their tally as Sevu Reece capitalised on a loose pass from Garry Ringrose to cross over and in the 34th minute Quinn Tupaea dived over after collecting a grubber kick from Barrett, who was spot on with the conversion to make it 21-5.

As the break was approaching, New Zealand got their fourth try as Aaron Smith sent a chip kick past the Ireland defence and Savea collected the bouncing ball to crossover and the try was awarded after a consultation with the TMO. With Barrett kicking his fourth conversion, New Zealand completed the opening half with a 28-5 lead.

Ireland started the second half similar to the first with this time Lowe sending an offload for Garry Ringrose to score and Joey Carbery's conversion made it 28-12 but his effort was cancelled out as Savea made a powerful run to dive over in the 53rd minute and Barrett improved it.

With 10 minutes left in the game, Pita Gus Sowakula on his debut dived under the posts before Ireland replied back as Bundee Aki bundled over in the 76th minute to make it 42-19. New Zealand lost Karl Tuinukuafe to sin-bin in the closing stage for a dangerous tackle but it did not make any difference as New Zealand started the series with a win.

Team line up:

New Zealand: J. Barrett, Reece, R. Ioane, Tupaea, Fainga’anuku, B. Barrett, Smith, Bower, Taylor, Tu’ungafasi, Retallick, Whitelock, S. Barrett, Cane, Savea.

Reserves: Taukeiaho, Tuinukuafe, Taavao-Matau, Sowakula, Papali’i, Christie, Mo’unga, Ennor.

Ireland: Keenan, Earls, Ringrose, Henshaw, Lowe, Sexton, Gibson-Park, Porter, Sheehan, Furlong, Beirne, Ryan, O’Mahony, Van der Flier, Doris.

Reserves: Heffernan, Healy, O’Toole, Treadwell, Conan, Murray, Carbery, Aki.