New Zealand give Ireland the shivers

The All Blacks say Saturday’s 21-11 victory over Ireland in freezing, driving rain was the coldest weather they have ever played in.

With a chilly wind whipping through the Westpac Stadium, the conditions were worse than when they played in hail against the British and Irish Lions in Christchurch three years ago, according to All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

“I’ve never really got cold out on the field but after half-time I was shivering,” he said.

Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll was still shaking, even after a hot shower, when he fronted for the post-match press conference nearly an hour after the final whistle.

In an even match, the score was tied 11-11 with 20 minutes remaining when All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter swung the result New Zealand’s way with a penalty and then a telling break that resulted in a try to Ma’a Nonu.

Carter’s cut through the Irish line to set up Nonu’s try was “a moment of genius”, according to Ireland coach Michael Bradley as he saw an end to Irish hopes for an historic first win against New Zealand in 103 years.

“In the first couple of minutes we possibly would have been over the line twice but for the bounce of the ball, and that maybe would have been enough to carry us for the entire match on the basis of the conditions,” Bradley said.

“But to their credit the All Blacks stuck at it as well, and they were patient and it probably took one moment of genius to create the critical line break in the second half.

“We have a very disappointed dressing room because we thought we had a really good chance to beat New Zealand.”

With the All Blacks looking to start a new era in their first Test since last year’s failed World Cup campaign, they knew success against Ireland would depend on gaining parity against the vastly experienced, Munster-based pack.

“We realised it was probably going to be nasty weather so we adapted pretty well. The forwards took charge of the set piece, we won most of our lineout ball, our drive was right there and we got some go forward,” McCaw said.

“Even when we were 11-11 early in the second half there was no panic, there was composure there and belief in what we were doing.”

But if the forwards, doing most of the hard work up front, were feeling the cold then life was much worse for the outside backs.

“It got to the point where you couldn’t feel your hands or anything really,” said All Blacks centre Conrad Smith.

“There was one point there are the end when one of the Irishmen went down that both teams were running around in circles doing their own thing (to keep warm). I just looked around and thought ‘this is stupid’.”

His opposite, O’Driscoll, agreed.”They were horrible conditions to play a Test match but sometimes you get them and it’s disappointing to push it as hard as we did, with the intensity we had, and to slip up once at that line break and be punished.”

Tries to All Blacks wing Sitiveni Sivivatu and Ireland’s inside centre Paddy Wallace plus a penalty apiece by Carter and Ronan O’Gara saw the scores level at 8-8 at half-time.

Four minutes after the turn is was 11-11 after O’Gara and Carter traded further penalties and the match became a dour struggle of kicking for territory, ruck and counter-ruck, until Carter broke the deadlock.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry said that while pleased with the outcome of his new-look side’s first outing, little could be read into the game because of the weather.

“I think that game was just a one-off, it is very difficult to judge that game compared to most of the other games you play,” he said.

“It was a one-off for tactics, a one-off for putting up with those conditions out there and getting through them.”

The All Blacks meanwhile have added Canterbury Crusaders prop Ben Franks to their squad ahead of the two-Test series against England which begins in Auckland n

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