Savea double helps New Zealand to rampant first Test win over Ireland
Ardie Savea bagged a double as New Zealand overcame a difficult week of preparations to swat aside Ireland with a 42-19 win in the first Test in Auckland.
The All Blacks overcame a nervy start against Andy Farrell's visitors to gradually, and then ruthlessly, impose themselves upon proceedings at Eden Park.
Ireland, who lost influential fly-half Johnny Sexton half-an-hour in after he failed a head injury assessment, had arrived for their three-game tour looking to back up victory in November with a first win in New Zealand.
An early try for Keith Earls looked to represent the perfect start for them, particularly against a home team whose build-up had been ransacked by a COVID-19 outbreak, requiring ex-Ireland boss Joe Schmidt to step into their coaching ranks.
But a barnstorming run by debutant Leicester Fainga’anuku helped get Jordie Barrett over the line in response, sparking a fluid All Blacks passage, with finishes for Sevu Reece, Quinn Tupaea and Savea setting a 28-5 advantage at the break.
Garry Ringrose responded after the interval to give Ireland hope, but a superb solo second for Savea sealed the game,before Pita Gus Sowakula crossed for a try on debut and Bundee Aki nabbed a late consolation finish in the closing stages.