All Blacks win over Ireland 21-11
Well the first test match of the season is over – and what a relief it is. While the odds at the TAB on Ireland winning were very long, the result showed that the reality was quite different. It was level for most of the game – 8 all at half time, and 11 all for a large part of the second half until a try to Nonu put the All Blacks into a commanding position. The conditions played an important part in the game – the driving rain and extreme cold meant it was never a night for running rugby. However, given the conditions, both teams can be proud of the small number of handling errors. The most interesting thing for me (other than the result) were the performances of a few players. Tialata played extremely well – much better than his indifferent Super 4 form would have led me to believe. He certainly justified his selection. So’oialo played as well as ever at number 6. McCaw was fantastic. Kaino didn’t embarrass himself, though I remain unconvinced – I was looking for strong ball carrying ability, and I didn’t see much evidence of that . Tuitavake was subbed early – but it was a night for a kicking fullback, so I don’t hold that against him. There was a notable steadying of the ship when MacDonald replaced him. Notably Nonu played well and his try was fantastic. Perhaps he is now the answer to our midfield woes.
One gratifying aspect of the game is how well the setpieces went – the All Black scrum was dominant, and the line out went well against the much vaunted Irish one, wining four against the throw to one for Ireland. It was also quite strange to watch a game played under the old rules. The number of penalties and stoppages seemed ridiculously high after watching a Super 14 using the new Experimental Law Variations.
All in all a good win – but much remains a mystery before facing the English.