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Kiwis crush Ireland
Savea bags a hat-trick as world champions romp home
Debutant Julian Savea helped himself to a hat-trick as New Zealand won the opening Test match against Ireland with a 42-10 success in Auckland.
The 21-year-old bagged two tries before half-time to put the world champions in control of the match before touching down in the 44th minute to effectively kill the contest.
Fergus McFadden did pull a try back for the visitors soon after, but the Kiwis ended on a positive note with late tries from Conrad Smith and Dan Carter wrapping up a comprehensive victory.
Ireland's start was bright, but they lost possession off their own scrum with three minutes on the clock and conceded a penalty seconds later which Carter sent over.
The All Blacks went off their feet two minutes later and Jonathan Sexton levelled matters. The score spurred the visitors on and Donnacha Ryan, Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy were all responsible for huge hits.
Brian O'Driscoll found Keith Earls in midfield and the Munster man set up the charging Simon Zebo, who was bundled out of play only metres from the left-hand corner.
The momentum was reversed by two quick penalty concessions and Carter landed from the halfway line to make it 6-3 with 16 minutes on the clock.
The fly-half added three more from a similar distance as Savea forced a penalty through a hefty challenge on full-back Rob Kearney.
The hosts ran in their opening try six minutes later. An Ireland clearance looked to have Zac Guilford under pressure, but his drop bounced backward and he spooned a pass left.
A fine one-handed pass from Sonny Bill Williams then released Smith who created the opening as he drew in Fergus McFadden and Keith Earls before offloading. Carter took possession and slipped Savea in - the winger racing free and touching down under the posts. Carter added the extras.
Savea broke free again minutes later as Sean O'Brien missed a regulation tackle and it took a flying tap tackle from Kearney and good scrambling from Peter O'Mahony for Ireland to clear.
Zebo was Ireland's best attacking option in the opening half and he was almost clear for a try after 30 minutes, but was chopped down in full flight as he sprinted into the All Blacks' 22.
Ireland enjoyed a brief attacking flurry in New Zealand territory, but they were getting knocked back heavily in the tackle. A big hit on Sexton led to broken play and Zebo needed to use his pace in defence as he slid in to cover a dangerous Israel Dagg kick ahead.
Conor Murray needed every ounce of strength in his scrum-half frame soon after as he repelled a charging Sam Whitelock at the right corner. But play quickly streamed right to left and Dagg took a great attacking line before setting up Savea for his second try.
There was attention from Kearney and Murray and a television replay, but the score was never in doubt. Carter landed a fine conversion from the left touchline to make it 23-3 at half time.
Any thoughts of an unlikely Irish comeback were extinguished within three minutes of the restart as Dagg and Savea combined again. The All Black 15 twisted and turned his opposite number in defence before he popped up a pass for Savea to get his hat-trick. Carter got his third conversion to make it 30-3.
All the attacks were coming down McFadden's flank but the right winger got some relief as Rory Best scrambled for possession, allowing Sexton to hoof the ball upfield. The Leinster man beat Richie McCaw in a foot race to touch down and Sexton's conversion made it 30-10.
Earls and O'Driscoll then needed to be strong in defence as they held up Kieran Read on the line after a thundering run.
The respite was short-lived as New Zealand's strong ruck sucked in Irish defenders to allow Adam Thomson to crash over.
Both teams rang the changes with 20 minutes remaining and Ireland weathered another spell of pressure from the home team and looked to have clawed themselves back into a respectable position.
McFadden outsprinted Dagg over 80 metres to score under the posts, but referee Nigel Owens had already called back play for an Irish offside.
Smith was then rewarded for a fantastic all-round performance when he dived over to the right of the posts after a slick pass from Aaron Cruden. Carter added the extras to make it 42-10 and give the Irish plenty to ponder ahead of next week's second Test in Christchurch.
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|Saturday 22nd November|
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|Friday 21st November|
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|Saturday 15th November|
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|Friday 14th November|
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com