Sparkling Maori All Blacks beat Ireland in tour opener

TJ Perenara (right) of the New Zealand Maori looks on during the rugby union match between the New Zealand Maori and Ireland at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on June 29, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
HAMILTON, New Zealand — Ireland conceded they were a distant second best after opening their tour of New Zealand with a 32–17 loss to a sparkling Maori All Blacks in Hamilton on Wednesday.اضافة اعلان

In a worrying sign three days out from the first Test of a three-match series against New Zealand, the Irish paid for ill-discipline and inaccuracy against a Maori outfit who scored all their four tries in the first half to open a 32–10 lead at the break.

Despite wet conditions at Waikato Stadium, the home team were not afraid to take risks and strung together some sweeping attacking moves, with two tries emanating from within their own half.

Fly-half Josh Ioane kicked 12 points and was a constant menace with ball in hand.

Ireland paid for a heavy penalty count against them in the opening half, with their problems exacerbated by an aimless kicking game and a back-pedaling scrum.

Coach Andy Farrell will be concerned about the health status of at least two of his players, after back Jamie Hume and prop Cian Healy were assisted from the field nursing leg injuries.

Farrell fielded an inexperienced, virtual second-string, side with most of his likely starters for the first Test at Auckland on Saturday watching on from the grandstand.

He took some positive elements from “a game of two halves” but said the Maori were clearly deserved winners.

“We’re disappointed. We know it was a big week for the Maori boys but it was a big week for some of our guys, playing for Ireland for the first time,” Farrell said.

“There was really good stuff from certain individuals but a lot of dumb stuff along the way.

“It was brilliant as far as our learning is concerned because that’s what you’ve got to iron out if you want to make it to the top.”

Maori captain Brad Weber said all of his players were encouraged to attack with ball in hand if they saw space.

“We just wanted the boys to play with a bit of flair and at a speed that we would hope that Ireland couldn’t handle,” he said.

“That first half certainly showed it. It was fun to be part of, man. We’re all Maori so we all want to bring out that flair.”

Ireland’s New Zealand-born Bundee Aki captain crossed to put his side 10-8 ahead in response to an early try from impressive Maori fullback Zarn Sullivan.

The home side then took control with three tries in the space of 11 minutes in the leadup to halftime, with wing Shaun Stevenson, halfback Weber and forward Cullen Grace all crossing.

A more even second half threw up just one try, when Ireland forward Gavin Coombes burrowed across.

The two teams will meet again in Wellington on July 12, midway between the second and third Tests.

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