SIMON BORCHARDT saw the All Blacks begin their reign as world champions with a 42-10 win against Ireland at Eden Park.
Hurricanes winger Julian Savea was the star of the show, scoring three tries on debut and becoming the first All Black to get a hat-trick against Ireland.
It took a while for the hosts to get going, as you’d expect from a team playing their first Test of the season, but once they did it was one-way traffic.
In the build-up to this game, Ireland coach Declan Kidney spoke about the good memories his side had of Eden Park having beaten the Wallabies there during the World Cup. And for the first 15 minutes on Saturday it looked as if they just might make more of them against the world champions.
However, three penalties from Dan Carter – two of them from 50m out – were followed by a try in the 25th minute that was a sign of things to come. Zac Guildford dropped an Irish kick just inside his half, but the ball went sideways and the All Blacks were able to send it wide to Conrad Smith, who switched with Sonny Bill Williams. The No 12 made one of his trademark one-hand offloads to Carter and he sent Savea away for his first Test try.
The All Blacks struck again just before half-time after a poor pass from Brian O’Driscoll inside the hosts’ 22 resulted in a turnover and an All Blacks lineout 5m out from the Irish tryline. While the visitors survived the subsequent attack, their line was breached a couple minutes later when Savea went over in the left-hand corner. Carter nailed the touchline conversion to give the All Blacks a 23-3 lead at the break.
That became 30-3 three minutes into the second half when good interplay between Smith and No 8 Kieran Read in midfield created space out wide for fullback Israel Dagg, who drew in the cover defence and put Savea away for his third.
Ireland finally crossed the All Blacks’ line when they turned over possession near their 22 and Jonny Sexton kicked down the right-hand touchline for winger Fergus McFadden, who was always going to beat Richie McCaw in a foot race.
Normal activity resumed shortly after, though, when Read broke away from the back of a 5m scrum and gave the try-scoring pass to replacement flanker Adam Thomson.
The final quarter was a scrappy affair as both sides turned to their bench, but the All Blacks managed to finish with a flourish when Smith scored their fifth try with two minutes to go.
Ireland have never beaten the All Blacks, and based on Saturday’s performance, there’s little chance of them breaking that drought in Christchurch and Hamilton over the next two weeks.