NEW Zealand launched themselves into the World Cup quarter-finals with a comfortable 48-10 win over Ireland.
Ireland battled hard in the opening quarter – as they did throughout the fixture – and were rewarded with a penalty from which Ed Chamberlain converted.
However, the Kiwis soon showed their class and following a Jason Hasson mistake, Jahrome Hughes skipped through four defenders to go over under the posts. Jordan Rapana converted for a 6-2 lead.
Rapana was the next on the scoresheet as the clock struck 20 minutes after Ireland were punished by two penalties and a six again in a row, though the winger missed his conversion.
The Irish were again penalised by referee Robert Hicks as the Kiwis began turning the screw with Peta Hiku the next to slide over from a beautiful Holmes grubber. Rapana’s conversion made it 16-2 after 26 minutes.
Credit to the Wolfhounds, however, they were determined not to go down without a fight and Louis Senior intercepted a Briton Nikora pass to run in from 30 metres to send Headingley into raptures. Chamberlain somehow missed the conversion as Ireland were back to within ten.
That being said, Hughes was on fire and his superb break enabled Hiku to grab his second of the night six minutes before half-time, though Rapana missed with the extras.
New Zealand were down to 12 moments later when Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was sent to the sinbin for a swinging arm on Dan Norman – which could quite easily have been red – but an error from Henry O’Kane allowed Ronaldo Mulitalo to fly in at the corner. Dylan Brown took over the kicking duties but he missed as well as the Kiwis led 24-6 at half-time.
The Kiwis picked up where they left off after the break with Rapana somehow keeping his feet in play as he slid in at the corner, but again Brown couldn’t convert.
James Fisher-Harris ran through some soft defence to dot down in the 55th minute with Hughes getting in on the act again just before the hour.
A Kieran Foran kick then caused chaos in the Irish defence with Isaiah Papali’i picking up the remains to dive over. Brown’s conversion made it 44-6 with just under a quarter of the game remaining.
Ireland did, however, get a consolation try as Louis Senior dotted down his second after Mulitalo lost the ball over his own line, though Chamberlain was wayward with the conversion. With that try, Louis Senior went top of the try-scoring charts with Australia’s Josh Addo-Carr, but Joseph Manu had enough time to put the icing on the cake for the Kiwis.
Joseph Manu, Jordan Rapana, Peta Hiku, Briton Nikora, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Dylan Brown, Jahrome Hughes, Jesse Bromwich (C), Brandon Smith, James Fisher-Harris, Kenny Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Joseph Tapine. Subs (all used): Isaiah Papali’i, Kieran Foran, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Isaac Liu
Tries: Hughes 2, Rapana 2, Hiku 2, Mulitalo, Fisher-Harris, Manu
Goals: Rapana 2/4, Brown 2/6
Sinbin: Waerea-Hargreaves (38) – dangerous contact
Richie Myler, Louis Senior, Ed Chamberlain, Toby King, Innes Senior, Luke Keary, Joe Keyes, James Hasson, Josh Cook, George King (C), James Bentley, Frankie Halton, Ronan Michael. Subs (all used): Brendan O’Hagan, Harry Rushton, Dan Norman, Henry O’Kane
Tries: L Senior 2
Goals: Chamberlain 1/3
Referee: Robert Hicks
Scoring sequence: 0-2, 6-2, 10-2, 16-2, 16-6, 20-6, 24-6; 28-6, 32-6, 38-6, 44-6, 44-10, 48-10
Venue: Headingley Stadium, Leeds