New Zealand posted a record-breaking 60-0 thrashing of Ireland in their third and final rugby union Test at Waikato Stadium yesterday to complete a series sweep.
The All Blacks, who squeezed past the Irish with a last-gasp Daniel Carter drop-goal in Christchurch last week, scored nine tries, including two each to Sam Cane and Sonny Bill Williams, and had the game won at halftime leading 29-0.
Ben Smith, Hosea Gear, Israel Dagg, Liam Messam and Adam Thomson also scored as the world champions recorded their largest winning margin against Ireland.
The previous largest margin was 53 points, when the All Blacks won 59-6 in 1992.
It was the third time in their 27 Tests that the All Blacks have held Ireland scoreless.
Ireland, who have never beaten New Zealand, gave the All Blacks a major fright last week before losing 22-19, but the world champions, who made six changes to the side, put the game beyond doubt by halftime with four tries.
All four were set up by flyhalf Aaron Cruden, two to inside center Williams and one each to flanker Cane and winger Ben Smith.
Cane and Williams’ first try came from incredible sleight of hand by the slender flyhalf when he was able to free his hands in the tackle and find the player running off him.
Smith’s try was just as impressive, with Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll turning the ball over while on attack, Cruden snatching the loose ball, running about 30m and feeding to center Conrad Smith, who found his namesake outside him.
Cruden was injured in the tackle and immediately went off for treatment, but did not return, handing a Test debut to Beauden Barrett, who looked just as composed as the man he replaced.
The All Blacks quickly built on their 29-0 lead after the break, with Cane scoring his second try after a superb break from Aaron Smith, while Gear finished off a long-range try after Cane had stolen a deep line-out throw and they spread it wide.
Gear could probably could have outstripped Keith Earls to the corner, but slowed slightly before smashing over the top of the Irish winger to emphasize the gulf in intensity between the two sides.
Messam, Dagg and Thomson scored tries in the second half as the All Blacks continued their rout and refused to allow Ireland to put any points on the board.
AUSTRALIA V WALES
A Berrick Barnes penalty five minutes from time gave Australia a 20-19 win for a clean sweep in the three-Test series against Six Nations champions Wales in Sydney yesterday.
The thrilling one-point win comes just a week after Australia edged out Wales 25-23 with a penalty after the fulltime siren in Melbourne. Wales have not won in Australia for 43 years, since their solitary 19-16 victory in Sydney in 1969.
The Wallabies, who led 12-9 at halftime, fell behind to a 61st-minute try from No. 8 Ryan Jones, before retrieving the lead with a Rob Horne try after adjudication by the video referee for ball-grounding.
Leigh Halfpenny kicked Wales back in front with nine minutes left, before Barnes landed a pressure penalty after Wales were caught offside in the 75th minute.
Wales had a late opportunity when replacement back James Hook kicked ahead downfield with no Australian cover, only for the ball to trickle over the sideline 30m from the Australian try line.
The Wallabies won the lineout and effectively ran down the clock to hold on to their one-point advantage.