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All Blacks fight hard to subdue galant Ireland

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith
Stephen Ferris scores for Ireland.jpg

The 38-18 victory for the All Blacks over Ireland at Aviva stadium on Sunday (NZ time) was fast and furious game of rugby.

Irish captain John O’Driscoll described the first 15 minutes as the hardest he had ever experienced in a Test Rugby career spanning 105 matches.

The All Blacks started with the same level of forward intensity that they had used to go through the Tri-Nations undefeated. They needed it though because Ireland were well up for this game and hung on grimly in defence.

Once the game settled down into a pattern – all be it still a frantic one, Ireland started to give as good as they got. They were unluckly not to go into the half in the lead after a Stephen Ferris try had put them in front close to half time.

One part of the Canterbury Crusaders game in Super Rugby that has entered the All Blacks playing culture in recent seasons is playing hard right up until the final whistle. They hammered away as the referee was close to blowing for half time and were rewarded with a fine try to Anthony Boric.

The All Blacks seem to be using their fast mobile locks to good effect further out. When Brad Thorn of Tom Donnelly are there they do the tight stuff and the short running hit-ups while the faster younger locks in Boric and Whitelock are using their mobility to hit the line as an extra man a bit like the fullbacks used to do in the old days. There is every chance that Sam Whitelock will go past Tom Donnelly in the locks pecking order by the start of next season.

Tries to Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock for the All Blacks soon after the second half commenced but the game out of Irelands reach. They never gave up though and came close to scoring on a number of occasions.

It looks very promising for Irelands Six Nations campaign that they showed such excellent character to carry on fighting when the chance of victory was gone. In recent times against the All Blacks, Ireland have been guilty of overdosing on passion at the expense of skill and sticking to a coherent game plan. On Saturday they showed that they can go the distance against the best in the world.

It is to Irelands credit too that with the injection of the much heralded Sonny Bill Williams into the game with 20 minutes to go that they managed to subdue his threat and he struggled to make an impact.

As the All Blacks now look to their final game of the season against Wales at Millenium Stadium next week, I am thinking that they will find the opposition a notch below the level of skill and intensity that Ireland produced.

Ireland (13) 18
Tries: Ferris, O’Driscoll Pens: Sexton 2 Cons: Sexton
New Zealand (19) 38
Tries: Boric, Read 2, Whitelock Pens: Carter 4 Cons: Carter 3

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