Māori All Blacks tear experimental Ireland side apart before first Test | Ireland rugby union team

Ireland endured a punishing start to their tour of New Zealand after an experimental side were dismantled by Māori All Blacks in Hamilton. Andy Farrell fielded five uncapped players for the warm-up match and was left with plenty to ponder following a resounding 32-17 defeat.

Zarn Sullivan and Josh Ioane starred for the Māori, who ran in four first-half tries, while scores from stand-in skipper Bundee Aki and Gavin Coombes were scant consolation for the Irish.

Ireland’s head coach will quickly turn his attention to Saturday’s opening Test of a three-match series with the New Zealand in Auckland, where he will field a much-changed team and hope for a far greater showing.

Few, if any, of his fringe players emerged with much credit from a cool, wet evening at FMG Stadium Waikato. Back-rower Coombes was arguably the star performer, while the uncapped prop Jeremy Loughman, in-form center James Hume and replacement Cian Healy each departed with injuries to add to Ireland’s woes.

Loughman lined up alongside fellow international debutants Ciarán Frawley, Jimmy O’Brien, Joe McCarthy and Cian Prendergast in a starting XV that contained just three players with more than six Test caps.

Frawley, who kicked seven points during the contest, traded early penalties with rival fly-half Ioane as both sides attempted to get to grips with slippery conditions which contributed heavily to possession frequently changing hands.

Cian Healy receives medical attention for an ankle injury during the match.
Cian Healy receives medical attention for an ankle injury during the match. Photograph: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile/Getty Images

Sullivan dived over on the right for the opening try in the 17th minute after his perfectly weighted 50:22 kick had initially put Ireland in trouble. The visitors swiftly responded with a fine set-piece move.

A superb tip-on pass from Coombes took out Cameron Suafoa and Billy Harmon, allowing Aki to break the line and use the wet surface to slide underneath the posts for an emotional score on the ground where he formerly played for Super Rugby club the Chiefs. However, that proved to a high point of a chastening outing.

Following Frawley’s conversion, the Māori – who began with 10 debutants – took control of the scoreboard by capitalizing on a string of errors. Ioane was becoming increasingly influential and, having added his second penalty of the match, twice converted after being heavily involved in scores for Shaun Stevenson and captain Brad Weber.

Indiscipline and indecision were undermining Irish hopes. They were further punished just before the interval as Stevenson scythed clear from just outside his own 22, culminating in Cullen Grace touching down and Ioane adding the extras to leave the visitors 32-10 behind.

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Loughman, who was forced off inside two minutes before initially returning following a head-injury assessment, was permanently replaced by Healy at the break. Ireland resumed with renewed purpose but were repeatedly held up on the line, including the unfortunate Nick Timoney.

Hume limped off before the visitors finally made a further dent on the scoreboard as Coombes bulldozed over 13 minutes from time in a stop-start second period. Healy then departed with a serious-looking problem, leaving Farrell seemingly short at loosehead heading to the first Test at Eden Park.

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