22nd June 2002
Eden Park, Auckland
Ref: Tappa Henning
All Blacks 40 Ireland 8
This was the performance we missed at Dunedin. The National Anthems were a treat to watch as well. What a perfect setting, no rain and the ground was in good nick too, considering the storm over the last 48 hours. No snow in sight either, so we never froze our bollocks off.
The All Blacks started strongly, gone were those handling errors of last week. Tappa Henning had the packs under contol at scrum time and it was great to see our lineout working well. Who wants to go back to those days of Oliver throwing into the lineout?
Mauger was fantasic at 2nd five, and right on cue, he made the break to set up MacDonald for the opening try. Gone were those barging runs of Wood from last week as the AB pack stuck it to the Irish. And the way they rave on about O'Driscoll, I had to wonder if he was playing.
So at 13-3 at the break, I was feeling quite relaxed. And soon another good backline move had Ralph finishing it off in the corner. I think it was good decision to put Robinson at centre. He was not flash, but he did the basics really well and the Irish backs ran out of ideas.
Ireland hit back with a try to make it 18-8, but like last week their goal kicking was woeful. Was this the same " Pig " from last week? You had the feeling it would not be long before we struck back. Enter Byron Kelleher. Watching him warm up on the touch line gives you the inpression that he needs to calm down a little.
Justin Marshall had an OK game, but some of his dithering was holding the team back a little. Some more good field position from the AB's and Ireland were on the back foot chasing shadows and bought the dummy for Kelleher to score under two tacklers.
At 28-8 with 15 minutes to go, the game was in the bag. Two more good tries to Holah and MacDonald. This guy is a great finisher.His timing and the angles he runs are fantasic to watch. Now it was 40-8 and the Irish were playing for pride.
A strong finish from the Irish, but the AB defence held strong to the end.
My man of the match was Richard McCaw. A lot of other good performers but he just kept knocking them over keeping Ireland on the back foot. Still some work to do securing the ball at kickoff time. This blunder led to Ireland's only try.