A great start by Ireland but that feels like a distant memory now after a four – flurry of tries from New Zealand, who are built on what appears to be a dossailable lead now. Johnny Sexton is also injured. However, if Ireland can start the second half as they did in the first half, there may still be a game in the second half. See you in a few minutes for more.
A little half-time reading for you:
This was the first half of two halves, and then some. It’s all gone for Ireland in the last 20 minutes. Smith starts ahead after a sniping run through a tired-looking defense. He can’t collect the ball himself but manages to hit the ball to the right – a few Irish defenders run past the bouncing ball, and Savea interrupts it to score. The TMO checks it and Smith says Smith clearly plays the ball backwards, so there’s no knock on it, but I’m not entirely sure he’s right … Regardless of the effort.
Bower’s front lineman touches around 22 Ireland and Barrett then kicks for the corner. Ireland have won the final but will then lose the ball when Gibson-Park turns over in an ambitious counter-attack. The Irish defense is not settled, Beauden Barrett kicks a nice gloomy kick towards the posts, and Tupaea waits calmly for him to play before he hits and knocks down. The TMO checks for a bypass but it’s all good.
Did Gibson-Park have that courage or determination?
Ireland invades down the left. Ringrose fumbles pas. Lowe slips over at the same time. Sevu Reece expertly scratches the bouncing ball and runs almost the entire length of the pitch to score under the poles. O’Mahony goes in search of, among other things, but there is no catch. After an overwhelming start, a few minutes of carelessness has re-admitted the hosts.
Meanwhile Sexton is gone, it looked to me like a bang to the head from Cane’s leg, one accidentally, after Sexton slipped before touching. Carbery is running at the idiot. Another blow to Ireland.
29 mins: The All Blacks, who look jumpy under pressure, have managed to play a final in their own half and Ireland have a front foot ball again.
26 mins: Ireland have played most of the rugby but they are behind … Sexton will be worried that he missed that conversion and that is taking him lightly. That is the difference between parity and the narrow deficit that Ireland now faces.
Anyway, Farrell’s side continue to ask questions in the attack, with James Lowe trying to get on the front kick ahead on the edge of the All Blacks 22.
The hosts attack fluidly down the right, then down the left, and Barrett flops over thanks to a clever pass back inside after debutant Fainga’anuku forces almost his way to the line. Barrett kicks the additions.
19 mins: New Zealand will enjoy a front foot ball and move towards Ireland 22. That is a reminder that the whole of Ireland has been there from the first few minutes. Just before that Sexton had made a brave chip and chased him in the Irish half. Farrell wanted to see courage, he certainly did.
17 mins: Great start indeed, but just the beginning of the moment.
15 mins: New Zealand win scrum penalty in Irish half. Point plus welcome. From the next line Ireland snatched the ball back. Sexton starts ahead and Keenan is almost out of place for Gibson-Park who could have a clean run to the line. Inset is isolated by goalkeeper Jordie Barrett who reads it brilliantly. And it would be a yellow card for the All Black if he released that one after juggling it …
11 mins: Jordie Barrett launches a sniping run from the deep left of the hosts. It’s taken down, and Peter O’Mahony snatches the ball from the wreck, making New Zealand’s No. 9 Smith look a little silly. O’Mahony starts in front and Earls is almost ready, but is tied within 22 home runs.
10 mins: When Ringrose hits the Cane with a sharp beat, he knocks and scrums on Ireland about halfway. New Zealand are lagging behind on the pitch and behind the scoreboard. There are some anxious faces to be seen among the All Blacks team. If they thought it was an ‘easy’ night here, or at least simple, they can think again.
Ireland have won a lucky little penalty from the outside. That allows them to move into the All Blacks half for the first time. And they made an excellent attack, moving through various stages and extending the home defense, with tips from Gibson-Park from the bottom. Sheehan and Keenan move close to progress as Ireland draws closer to the line, showing excellent discipline and continuity. The ball is launched properly thanks to a very good pass under pressure from Keenan … Earls has a sniff of the line and does it very well hitting it through tackles and scores! A start for Ireland! Sexton can’t get the kick right, and it’s a shame to score just five points for such a clever attack from the visitors’ first possession, but Ireland will take it.
2 mins: A long spell of kick tennis occurs. Hugo Keenan initially controls a ball in Ireland’s 22 game, but manages to tidy it up and hand it over to Sexton. New Zealand run it from the next possession. Sheehan has little impact on turnover but simply removes the ball. A low kick to the corner and that’s the All – Ireland final five meters from his line.
Beauden Barrett starts! He puts the kick down the middle. Ireland has entered the first scrum …
Ireland 12 wins out of 12 in every Trial they have had in New Zealand up to this point.
Here comes the Haka.
Don’t forget, you can email me or tweet with any thoughts on the game.
The teams are on the fieldit’s time for the songs, and the kick-off is less than five minutes away.
“It simply came to our notice then or Eden Park on a dry afternoon, ”Ireland head coach Andy Farrell tells Sky Sports. “We know the challenge ahead but we are excited at the time …
“I want to see courage. I want to see ourselves from the word ‘Go’. ”
In the perennial struggle between domestic and international sport, more beautiful in rugby than anywhere else, this weekend is the opening of the latest window for the international game to set up its stall. Business merchants, too, if the strength of advertised teams, which is so often reduced at this time of year, means nothing to follow.
Finlay Bealham of Ireland There is a positive test for Covid so Cian Healy comes in 22. For New Zealand there are a few starts: Leicester Fainga’anuku is on the wing, and the No. 8 Pita Gus Sowakula on the bench.
New Zealand: J. Barrett, Reece, R. Ioane, Tupaea, Fainga’anuku, B. Barrett, Smith, Bower, Taylor, Tu’ungafasi, Retallick, Whitelock, S. Barrett, Cane, Savea. Replacements: 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. Replacements: Heffernan, Healy, O’Toole, Treadwell, Conan, Murray, Carbery, Aki.
Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU)
Ireland waited a long time to beat New Zealand: 111 years, to be precise. Since their eventual achievement in Chicago in 2018, the floodlights have been open, and Ireland now has three victories against the Blackbirds on the books, most recently in November 2021.
However, they are yet to win over New Zealand in New Zealand. What would it mean for Andy Farrell’s team to do that in the coming weeks? Everything and anything, but most of all, as a milestone on their journey to next year’s World Cup, and in itself as one of the greats of union rugby.
Like Wimbledon and the Tour de France, Covid has not left this event with ease, with some players and coaches set aside. Former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has even drafted in New Zealand as an inward position to lend a hand.
With England in Australia and Wales in South Africa it’s the start of a great summer of rugby, but this may be the best of all.
Start: 8.05am BST.