4 Dec, 09:57
This Friday night coming, 6th December (kick-off 7.45pm), Midleton RFC host Sundays Well RFC in the All Ireland League "under lights" at Towns Park.
There will be mixed feelings in the Irish camp after this performance as this was a game they could have won but also they produced a credible fight back after a poor opening.
Jonathan Sexton whose excellent kicking brought Ireland back into contention with seven penalties and a conversion but his only miss was an effort six minutes from time that would have tied up the scores for the third time.
The opening quarter of this game at Rotorua looked like a continuation of last Saturday’s defeat with another drubbing for the tourists on the cards as the New Zealand Maoris raced into a 15-0 lead after thirteen minutes.
The home side opened the scoring with a penalty by Luke McAlister after a minute. Five minutes later the visitors defence was cut to pieces as the Maoris split the Irish defence and winger Hosea Gear finished off an excellent move with a try in the corner which went unconverted.
The Irish defence was again found wanting on thirteen minutes when center Dwayne Sweeney cut through the Irish back line to score and McAllister added the conversion for a 15-0 lead.
Jonathan Sexton opened Ireland’s account with a penalty on seventeen minutes after the home side were penalised for off side at a ruck, but a minute later McAllister restored the Maoris fifteen point advantage with a penalty.
The Irish began to settle and put a few phases together but were very lucky not to be further behind on twenty five minutes, when sloppy passing by the Irish, saw the home side win the ball on the half way line and they hacked it up field but lucky for the visitors the ball went over the dead ball line before the on rushing Maoris could touch down.
Sexton had Ireland level by half time as the Maoris began to concede penalties and the Leinster out half converted five kicks to leave it 18-18.
From the restart skipper Geordan Murphy made an opening to setup Paddy Wallace for a try which Sexton converted.
Eight minutes into the second half McAllister reduced the deficit with a penalty but was off target with two further efforts shortly after.
The home side regained the lead with a wonderful try on sixty two minutes. It all began on the Maoris goal line when a break up the wing by Sean Maitland saw him skip through several would be tackles, before the ball was spread out the back line and substitute Karl Lowe touched down and Willie Ripia converted for a 28-25 lead.
Three minutes later Sexton tied up the scores to bring his tally to twenty three points with his seventh penalty.
In the final ten minutes indiscipline cost the Irish and they were punished eight minutes from time when Ripia kicked over a penalty.
Sexton did have a chance of drawing level with an effort shortly after but the experienced Maoris ran down the clock for a famous victory.
Scorers: New Zealand Maori: Hosea Gear, Dwayne Sweeney, Karl Lowe tries, Luke McAlister 3 pens, 1 con, Willie Ripia pen, con.
Ireland: Paddy Wallace try, Jonathan Sexton 7 pens, 1 con.
NEW ZEALAND MAORI: Robbie Robinson; Sean Maitland, Dwayne Sweeney, Luke McAlister, Hosea Gear; Stephen Brett, Aaron Smith; Bronson Murray, Corey Flynn, Ben Afeaki, Hayden Triggs, Jarrad Hoeata, Liam Messam (capt), Tanerau Latimer, Colin Bourke.
Replacements: Dane Coles for Flynn, Karl Lowe for Latimer (both 54 mins), Ruki Tipuna for Smith (59), Willie Ripia for Brett (62), Romana Graham for Hoeata (65), Clint Newlands for Murray (71). Not used: Jackson Willison.
IRELAND XV: Geordan Murphy (capt); Shane Horgan, Gavin Duffy, Paddy Wallace, Johnny Murphy; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Marcus Horan, John Fogarty, Tom Court, Ed O'Donoghue, Dan Tuohy, Rhys Ruddock, Niall Ronan, Chris Henry.
Replacements: John Hayes for Court (half-time), Rob Kearney for J Murphy (54-55, blood sub), Damien Varley for Fogarty (60), Peter Stringer for Reddan (62), David Wallace for Henry, Donncha O'Callaghan for Tuohy (both 65), Rob Kearney for Horgan (73). Not used: Ronan O'Gara.
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)