New Zealand avenged their shock defeat by Ireland two weeks ago as they won a brutally physical contest in Dublin.
Tries from Malakai Fekitoa and Beauden Barrett put New Zealand 14-3 up after 14 minutes although there looked a question mark over Barrett’s grounding.
Robbie Henshaw was already off injured and Ireland soon lost Johnny Sexton and CJ Stander as the All Blacks stretched the game’s laws to the limit.
Two Paddy Jackson kicks cut the margin to five before Fekitoa’s clinching try.
The Irish couldn’t exploit intense third-quarter pressure – despite Fekitoa’s sin-binning – with Rob Kearney’s inability to off-load as a try beckoned in the 56th minute a key moment after Israel Dagg had fumbled a Simon Zebo kick.
Not for the first time, Rory Best questioned referee Jaco Peyper after Fekitoa’s 65th-minute try with the Irish skipper convinced replacement Aaron Crudden had delivered a forward pass as New Zealand scored in their first foray into opposition territory since the break.
Match officials’ decisions will be talking point
A major talking point after this fiercely-contested game is likely to be the performance of South African referee Peyper and his officials.
New Zealand flanker Sam Cane looked fortunate to avoid a yellow card, and possibly even a red, for his early shoulder charge into Henshaw’s neck and the All Blacks continued to thunder into tackles for the remainder of the contest.
Scrum-half Aaron Smith and try-scorer Fekitoa were yellow-carded for further high tackles either side of half-time and there looked to be a number of other occasions when the referee could have reached into his pocket.
Prior to the Autumn Internationals, World Rugby warned that “reckless contact” with a player’s head could result in red cards which had led to the belief that clampdown on high tackles was likely.
The absence of the Sexton-Henshaw axis for more than three-quarters of the game was a huge blow for the home side, who nevertheless showed immense courage in trying to take the game to the All Blacks, with Devin Toner and Sean O’Brien among numerous outstanding home performers.
However, ultimately Ireland were unable to break down the world champions – notably during the two sin-binnings – with the available again lock Brodie Retallick particularly influential for Steve Hansen’s side.
New Zealand boosted by changes from Chicago defeat
After losing an unbeaten record against the Irish two weeks ago which stretched back 111 years, New Zealand looked to have a stronger hand for the Dublin rematch as Retallick was joined in the second row by Sam Whitlock and Fekitoa, Dagg and Anton Lienert-Brown were also drafted in.
Predictably, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt opted to leave well alone with rampaging flanker O’Brien’s inclusion for injured Jordi Murphy the only home change from the Soldier Field selection.
A hit on O’Brien from Barrett’s kick-off was a portent of things to come and within three minutes New Zealand had notched their first try as the fly-half’s crosskick set up Fekitoa to score following intense early pressure.
As Ireland immediately responded, Barrett produced try-saving tackle to hold up O’Brien over the line while Stander was then denied by desperate New Zealand defence with Sexton slotting the resultant penalty.
Schmidt was left shaking his head after Cane’s challenge ended Henshaw’s afternoon and things got worse for the Irish in the 14th minute as Barrett burst in between Jared Payne and Conor Murray to score, despite the suspicion that he may not have grounded.
With Sexton’s old hamstring injury flaring up, Jackson kicked Ireland’s second penalty – their only return during Aaron Smith’s sin-binning – and the Ulsterman had an escape as his fumble was knocked on by Barrett with the try-line beckoning.
All Blacks repel Irish onslaught
Jackson’s second penalty was a measly return for Ireland’s intense pressure after the resumption.
An Irish line-out deep in the New Zealand 22 came to nothing as O’Brien knocked on and Kearney’s failure to find a colleague after Dagg’s mistake in the 56th minute was even more frustrating for the home side.
The game was then up for the Irish nine minutes later as Lienert-Brown’s initial break was followed by fast hands from Barrett and TJ Perenara as the score was delivered on a plate to Fekitoa, amid Irish suspicions of a forward pass.
Ireland welcome Australia to the Aviva Stadium next Saturday while later in the day the All Blacks face France at the Stade de France in Paris.
Ireland: R Kearney; A Trimble, J Payne, R Henshaw, S Zebo; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, T Furlong; D Toner, D Ryan; CJ Stander, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.
Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy, F Bealham, I Henderson, J van der Flier, K Marmion, P Jackson, G Ringrose.
New Zealand: B Smith; I Dagg, M Fekitoa, A Lienert-Brown, J Savea; B Barrett, A Smith; J Moody, D Coles, O Franks; B Retallick, S Whitelock; L Squire, S Cane, K Read (capt).
Replacements: C Taylor, W Crockett, C Faumuina, S Barrett, A Savea, TJ Perenara, A Cruden, W Naholo.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/38016234