New Zealand turn on the style at Eden Park to cruise past Ireland in opening Test

All Blacks overcome early deficit to run in six tries and defeat tourists 42-19

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New Zealand cruised to a 1-0 series lead over Ireland in the opening Test at Eden Park after the All Blacks scored six tries in a compelling attacking display on Saturday.

Despite going down to an early Keith Earls try, the All Blacks soon took command of the first half after opening up a 28-5 half-time lead, and Ireland's problems were compounded by captain Johnny Sexton being forced off with a head knock that will put him in doubt for the second Test in a week's time.

The home side's finishing was the difference in a relatively even contest, their individual skill often the basis of breaks while Ireland had to work hard to create their three tries.

New Zealand loose forward Ardie Savea scored two tries, including a dynamic second-half score, while fullback Jordie Barrett converted every try and crossed himself in a 17-point haul in the 42-19 victory.

"We're pretty pleased, that's a good start to the year for sure," said All Blacks captain Sam Cane.

"We were good for patches, certainly a good start but we've got a lot to work on. The boys defended really well, right until the end as well."

The result maintains Ireland's record of having never beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand, a run they were hoping to overturn after winning three of the previous five Tests between the nations.

It also extends New Zealand's remarkable unbeaten streak at Eden Park, where they have won 45 of 47 Tests since 1994 with two draws.

Ireland's hopes nosedived when they lost Sexton to concussion in the first half.

The veteran fly-half failed a head injury assessment and is likely to miss the second Test in Dunedin next Saturday under World Rugby protocols, adding to a mounting injury list.

New Zealand also had to overcome disruption in the build-up, losing the services of seven members of coaching and playing staff to Covid-19. But it did not show in a strong response to heavy defeats to Ireland and France on their northern hemisphere tour at the end of 2021.

"Overall, I thought it was a great test match and it'll give us confidence breaking down a defence as good as the All Blacks have," said Ireland's Peter O'Mahony.

"Plenty to work on from our side but a huge amount of confidence to be taken from it."

Updated: July 02, 2022, 9:53 AM
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