New Zealand Maori beat Ireland 31-28 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

New Zealand Maori beat Ireland 31-28

18/06/2010 08:31:58 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand Maori celebrated their centenary by maintaining a proud record against touring sides with a tight 31-28 victory over Ireland in Rotorua.

New Zealand Maori have had a number of famous victories over major touring international sides - including a 19-13 win over the 2005 British and Irish Lions - but doubt remained until the final whistle that they would add another scalp.

The home side scored three tries to one on Friday night but the boot of Irish flyhalf Jonathan Sexton kept the tourists in the game with seven penalties.

Sexton missed only the final and most vital attempt - which could have drawn the teams level in the last minutes.

"It's been a hundred years and I think we celebrated it the right way tonight with a win," captain Liam Messam said of the New Zealand Maori centenary.

Ireland's starting line-up contained none of the players who first took the field in their 66-28 loss against the All Blacks on Saturday, but early on it appeared they might be buried in similar fashion.

The Maori started explosively, scoring two tries - and two penalties from inside centre Luke McAlister - to lead 18-3 midway through the first spell.

All Black Hosea Gear scored the first Maori try after just four minutes after fullback Robbie Robinson came into the line to put the winger into space with the tryline looming.

Outside centre Dwayne Sweeney further exposed holes in the Irish defence to add a second try after 12 minutes, throwing a dummy pass before cutting inside his marker.

But Ireland clawed back, stringing together more phases and playing increasingly in the Maori half.

Almost invariably, the home side infringed at the breakdown within kicking distance.

Sexton kicked six penalties from six attempts to see the teams go into the break locked at 18-18.

Ireland took the lead in the first minute of the second spell when inside centre Paddy Wallace went over for a converted try after veteran fullback Geordan Murphy broke out of the Maori defensive shackles.

The Maori side regained the lead 28-25 midway through the second-half with a brilliant end-to-end try started with a 50-metre break by winger Sean Maitland, who jinked his way through at least five Irish defenders.

The ball was spun through the Maori backs for replacement forward Karl Lowe to touch down on the opposite flank for a try converted by replacement flyhalf Willie Ripia.

Ripia and Sexton traded another penalty each but Sexton's miss after 72 minutes proved decisive.

New Zealand Maori's centenary celebrations continue on Wednesday with a match against England in Napier.

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