New Zealand continued their victory march through the home nations with an emphatic defeat of Ireland on Saturday which sounded an ominous warning for the rest of world rugby.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry made an unprecedented 15 changes to the side which crushed Wales 41-3 but there was no break in momentum as the Tri-Nations champions ran in five tries at Lansdowne Road.
The ground was brought to its feet with just two minutes on the clock when a long pass from Ronan O’Gara allowed Geordan Murphy to burst into space.
The Leicester full-back fed Tommy Bowe but the rookie international, winning his fourth cap, cut inside when he should have returned the ball to Murphy who had drifted into space on the right.
Ireland continued to enjoy plenty of possession but, as they have done so many times before, New Zealand soaked up the pressure and hit back with a well-worked 10th-minute try against the run of play.
Number eight Mose Tuiali’i broke from the back of a scrum in front of the posts and fed the unmarked Sitiveni Sivivatu who had moved off his wing and into midfield where he found his dash to the line unimpeded with Nick Evans converting.
The All Blacks would have extended their lead had debutant lock Jason Eaton passed immediately to Richie McCaw instead of trying to burst through.
They broke through in the 21st minute when a switch with Evans sent skipper McCaw screaming into space and the openside supplied the scoring pass to Piri Weepu.
Gordon D’Arcy’s loose pass then turned over possession, initiating a fresh All Black assault, but Munster scrum-half Peter Stringer made a try-saving tackle on McCaw.
Evans kept the scoreboard ticking over with two penalties but Ireland burst into action in the 36th minute when number eight Denis Leamy crashed into space, setting up a magnificent platform.
Forwards Malcolm O’Kelly and Johnny O’Connor nearly forced their way through but New Zealand were saved by some brave defending, eventually conceding a penalty which Ireland declined to kick.
However, the All Blacks broke away shortly afterwards, Weepu ghosting behind the Ireland defence and sending Sivivatu over for the tourists’ third try. Evans landed the conversion.
Evans booted two more penalties before Weepu had to scramble back to deal with a dangerous kick and chase from the powerful Shane Horgan who was threatening to get Ireland off the mark.
Ma’a Nonu’s 52nd-minute spear-tackle on D’Arcy resulted in a penalty for Ireland and D’Arcy was able to get up after some brief treatment, but there was no respite for his side with Doug Howlett having a try disallowed by the television match official.
Nonu also had one disallowed in the 62nd minute but the irrepressible All Blacks could not be halted for long with Howlett sprinting in after a slick backs move straight from lineout ball.
Evans converted but Ireland replied with a flourish, with Donncha O’Callaghan held up over the line and Murphy knocking on when all he had to do was touch down.
The All Blacks were not finished, however, as Howlett completed his brace on the stroke of half-time and Evans improved the try before prop Marcus Horan claimed Ireland’s late consolation try with David Humphreys converting.