Savea treble helps All Blacks savage Ireland
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen’s gamble on naming three debutants paid dividends on Saturday as Julian Savea scored three tries to propel the All Blacks past Ireland 42-10 at Eden Park.
Hansen, after eight years as an assistant to World Cup winning coach Graham Henry, has stepped into arguably the most scrutinised rugby job in the world with a brief to balance the All Blacks’ high standards and build a side capable of defending the Webb Ellis trophy in 2015.
The former police officer gave Savea, scrumhalf Aaron Smith and lock Brodie Retallick their test debuts, with all three proving more than adequately they could make the step up to internationals from Super Rugby.
While Hansen praised the work of Retallick in the tight, Smith’s passing and decision making and Savea’s three tries, he reserved special praise for the 12 players in the starting lineup who were in the World Cup winning squad last year.
“They thing that pleased me the most of all was not the debutants, but the leaders in the team and our senior players,” Hansen told a media conference.
“They could have easily come in and been comfortable and all week they have displayed enthusiasm, excitement and a commitment to get the job done and they led the way.”
“We started the week out with one purpose and to have a performance we would be proud of and we have to be proud of what we did.”
The All Blacks had ended a 24-year wait for their second World Cup victory last October on the same ground and captain Richie McCaw had warned an expectant New Zealand public the team would not be perfect in their first outing of the season.
They were far from that. There were too many dropped passes and knock ons, some intercepted passes and a lack of accuracy and cohesion at the breakdown that produced a number of turnovers and penalties.
The defensive screen that had guided them to their 8-7 win over France last October, however, was still intact, and in fact virtually impenetrable.
Ireland’s only try came when hooker Rory Best gathered a loose ball froma charge down and with every All Blacks player up in the attacking line, flyhalf Jonathan Sexton booted the ball down field for winger Fergus McFadden to find himself the only player within sight of it.
The visitors, who have arrived in New Zealand after a long season, were keen to move the ball at pace themselves, often running it out from deep inside their own territory.
The All Blacks, however, kept driving them back in the tackle and when Ireland did kick downfield, there were plenty of
black jersies there to run it back at them. At pace.
Savea’s first try came from such a scenario when he was given an overlap down the left hand touchline, while his second typified the entire match.
Ireland had been hot on attack, but aggressive defence from Conrad Smith and captain Richie McCaw forced a turnover and three passes and a clever kick later, the All Blacks had an attacking lineout five metres out.
The field position gave them the opportunity to attack from a quick ruck shortly afterwards and Savea smashed over in the tackles of prop Cian Healy and scrumhalf Connor Murray.
“They played well,” Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll said.
“For a team that had not played since the World Cup final that was a good standard.
“They bring a real intensity and great tempo and try to keep the ball in play as much as they can. ...Some of their scores we didn’t helpo ourselves but they also constructed a few as well.
“They were worthy winners.”