Powerful young winger Julian Savea — often compared with rugby great Jonah Lomu — scored three blockbusting tries as the All Blacks destroyed Ireland with a 42-10 victory at Eden Park yesterday.
The runaway win shattered any illusions Ireland had of pulling off a historic first win over the All Blacks in the 107-year history of internationals between the two countries.
In their first outing since winning the World Cup last October and with a new head coach in Steve Hansen, the All Blacks ran in five tries to one.
Savea, 21, a former IRB junior player of the year, is 1.92m and 103kg, and with his strength and speed he proved a constant threat down the left wing during what was his first Test appearance.
He was only denied two more tries by desperate defense from Ireland fullback Rob Kearney.
All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith also produced an outstanding debut with his rapid service keeping the backline moving, and he received a standing ovation when he was substituted.
Hansen, who described Smith as “simply outstanding,” said there was still considerable room for improvement.
“There were a couple of tries we blew,” he said.
Ireland had opportunities, particularly in the first half when Jamie Heaslip, Keith Earls and Simon Zebo all went close, only to be tipped up in finger-tip defensive plays by Israel Dagg and Richie McCaw.
Ireland’s only try came from a long kick downfield, when winger Fergus McFadden outsprinted McCaw in a 50m race for the ball.
All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter, who finished with a match haul of 17 points, started the scoring early with a third-minute penalty, which was matched immediately by Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton.
With the All Blacks slow to find their cohesion, Ireland spent long periods on attack in the first 15 minutes, but started to lose their impetus when Carter landed two penalties in quick succession from about 50m out.
AUSTRALIA 27, WALES 19
REUTERS, BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
Australia defended grimly to weather a fierce second-half assault and prevail 27-19 over Wales yesterday in the first match of their three-Test series.
Trailing 17-3 minutes after the break, Wales closed the gap to just a point after a try to winger Alex Cuthbert in the 58th minute and some accurate kicking in tricky conditions by fullback Leigh Halfpenny on a drizzly night at Lang Park.
However, Wallabies inside center Pat McCabe eased the pressure with a try 10 minutes later and the hosts made a series of desperate tackles to deny the tourists in front of a crowd of more than 42,000.
“We had a lot of fun out there, it was great to play in front of a crowd like this,” Wallabies skipper David Pocock said in a pitchside interview. “There was a huge focus on the breakdown. Both teams did pretty well there.”