Sparkling Maori All Blacks beat Ireland in tour opener

Ireland opened their tour of New Zealand with a 32-17 loss to the Maori All Blacks in Hamilton on Wednesday, failing to handle the attacking verve of the home side.

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 up 32-10 lead at the break.

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

Flyhalf 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-pedalling scrum.

Coach Andy 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.

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

Ireland’s New Zealand-born captain Bundee Aki 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 lead-up to half time, with wing Shaun Stevenson, halfback Brad 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 12 July, midway between the second and third Tests.

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

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Dylan Jack