Red card for Heaslip gives All Blacks the green light

New Zealand 66 Ireland 28: No 8 faces long suspension after dismissal prompts nine-try hammering at the hands of McCaw's men
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The Independent Online

Two moments of madness from Jamie Heaslip could see the British Lion rewarded with a three-month ban, following his shameful red card against the All Blacks.

The No 8 became the first Irishman since Willie Duggan 32 years ago to be sent off after twice striking the New Zealand captain, Richie McCaw, with his knee in the 15th minute of this drubbing. He was also cited after the match, for striking.

What a difference 12 months can make. This time last year Heaslip cemented his place as the best No 8 in the British Isles and possibly beyond with a series of lung-bursting displays for the Lions in South Africa. Now the Leinster back rower will feel a million miles away from the heights of 2009 as he appears before a disciplinary hearing at noon in New Plymouth, to discover the length of his ban.

His tour of Australasia is over. A minimum three-week ban will rule Heaslip out of Ireland's matches against New Zealand Maori on Friday night and Australia on 26 June. The worst case scenario, of 12 weeks, could leave him facing a race against time to start the new European season in September.

The English referee, Wayne Barnes, was booed by the New Plymouth crowd before kick-off, as the home supporters remembered his officiating of New Zealand's exit from the 2007 World Cup, against France at the Millennium Stadium. Barnes, however, had little option other than to dismiss Heaslip and then show a first-half yellow card to Ronan O'Gara, for a blatant obstruction on Corey Jane. Such ill-discipline cost Ireland dear, leaving them with 13 men and ending the Test as a contest. Graham Henry's ruthless side ran riot and scored nine tries.

"It was a bad defeat but the red card had a real impact on the game," said Ireland's captain, Brian O'Driscoll. "I haven't seen the incident or the replay of the red card yet but there are no complaints about the yellow card because Ronan pulled back Corey and probably stopped a try so Wayne had no option.

"It certainly did not help matters but in fairness to the All Blacks they were already in their stride at that stage. Of course, it's difficult enough to play them with 15 men but we lost Jamie and then Ronan and we were chasing shadows. It was a tough period of time and we struggled. But I'm a positive person and I was delighted we showed a bit of bottle in the second half."

Ireland scored four tries, three of them in the second period. The replacement lock Dan Tuohy scored the first within 30 seconds of coming off the bench for his debut. O'Driscoll, Tommy Bowe and Gordon D'Arcy all scored after the interval in a display of the tourists' attacking verve.

But the Irish could not cope with the power and intensity of an All Black side enjoying a numerical advantage and the floodgates opened. The centre Conrad Smith, scrum-half Jimmy Cowan and the replacement second row Sam Whitelock scored two tries each and Ben Franks, Kieran Read and Neemia Tialata also crossed the Ireland line. Dan Carter was not to be forgotten either, and the New Zealand fly-half kicked 17 points, through seven conversions and a penalty, to become only the fourth player to score 1,000 points in Tests, after Jonny Wilkinson, Neil Jenkins and Diego Dominguez. His eight successes from eight shots at goal sounded a warning to the All Blacks' next opponents, Wales, whom they meet in Dunedin on Saturday.

Carter said: "It's fantastic and it's an achievement I am proud of. It was a great game by the team and I was pleased with my performance in tricky conditions. But I hope there are more points still to come."

New Zealand: I Dagg; C Jane (Z Guildford, 63), C Smith, B Stanley, J Rokocoko; D Carter (A Cruden, 54), J Cowan (P Weepu, 41); B Franks (N Tialata, 52), K Mealamu (A de Malmanche, 63), O Franks (B Franks, 70), B Thorn (S Whitelock, 50), A Boric, J Kaino (V Vito, 37), K Read, R McCaw (capt).

Ireland: R Kearney (G Murphy, 70); T Bowe, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, A Trimble; R O'Gara (J Sexton, 70), T O'Leary (E Reddan, 70); C Healy (J Fogarty, 76), S Cronin (T Court, 76), T Buckley, D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll (D Tuohy, 35), J Muldoon (S Jennings, 31), J Heaslip, D Wallace.

Referee: W Barnes (England).