Sunday, November 16, 2008
New Zealand overcame an error-prone first half to defeat Ireland 22-3 yesterday and maintain their 22-match unbeaten run against the hosts.
The All Blacks took a decisive 10-3 lead in the final move of the first half at Croke Park. A controversial penalty try was awarded against Tommy Bowe for slapping the ball into touch just as Richie McCaw appeared ready to score.
Referee Mark Lawrence handed him a yellow card to go with it, in what was a decision that is sure to fire up debate around the world for a long time yet.
The numeric advantage didnt last long for the All Blacks though, as Tony Woodcock was himself yellow carded, early in the second half, for a punch on Rory Best. The punch, to our knowledge, wasn't picked up on camera.
Earlier, an unusually shaky Dan Carter converted just one of three penalty kicks, while Ronan OGara nailed his only attempt a stunning 45m shot in the 38th minute to make it 3-3.
But tries by Maa Nonu and Brad Thorn in the 48th and 53rd minutes put the result beyond reach of the Irish, who lacked attacking bite and who have failed to beat New Zealand since 1905.
Irish captain Brian ODriscoll said "New Zealand won the field battle and dominated. You can only defend for so long and I thought we got out of jail a bit at times in the first half."