Rokocoko saves All Blacks’ blushes

A late Joe Rokocoko try broke Munster Hearts as the All Blacks came from behind to win 18-16 at Thomond Park.

Doug Howlett, Rua Tipoki, Lifeimi Mafi and Jeremy Manning took centre stage before a capacity crowd in Limerick, performing a haka as the All Blacks stood respectfully on halfway.

The All Blacks, lead by captain Piri Weepu, then answered the challenge with their own rendition of Ka Mate.

When the game finally got under way, it was Munster who started the better of the two sides.

Flyhalves Paul Warwick and Stephan Donald exchanged penalties, before the the Australian popped over a brilliant 35m drop goal to give his side 9-3 lead after 21 minutes.

However, the All Blacks responded immediately as Donald popped over a penalty and just a minute later some good work by Isaia Toeava had Donald diving the line for the first try of the game.

Munster though were hungry and struck back late in the first half through winger Barry Murphy and Warwick added the extras to give the Irish club outfit a 16-10 lead at the break.

Donald narrowed the gap with a penalty five minutes into the second half, but then missed two more opportunities – keeping the Munster dream alive.

The Munster defence stood strong and New Zealand were forced to go to their bench in the final 20 minutes to try and turn the result around.

Then came the moment that broke Munster hearts. From a lineout the ball was carried up in a well constructed maul before substitute Mils Muliaina put Rokocoko in space. The winger stepped past Howlett, the man whose try-scoring record he is chasing, and powered over the line to deny the Heineken Cup Champs.

Munster - Try: Murphey. Convs: Warwick. Pens: Warwick (2). Drop: Warwick.

New Zealand – Tries: Donald, Rokocoko. Convs:Donald. Pens: Donald (2).