Ireland missed perhaps their best opportunity for a maiden win in New Zealand yesterday in Hamilton, losing the first Test of two 34-23 after leading a weakened All Black side - if such a thing really exists - 23-15 with nine minutes left to play.
Luke McAlister, standing in at No 10 for Dan Carter, had nudged Graham Henry's men 24-23 ahead before the substitute lock Troy Flavell scored the sealing try. Ireland's Paul O'Connell knocked on an unwise chip ahead by the scrum-half Peter Stringer, and that was that.
The All Black wing Doug Howlett scored a first-minute try, but after 10 minutes Ireland's captain Brian O'Driscoll stepped over for a try that, with Ronan O'Gara's kicks, established a 10-5 lead. New Zealand scored another slick try, through Mils Muliaina, but the wing Andrew Trimble's second-half score and O'Gara's boot, ranged against McAlister's, kept the tourists in the contest until Flavell's effort.
England Saxons profited from a touch of the Trinidad magic in a six-try, 41-11 Barclays Churchill Cup victory over Canada in Toronto. The London Irish full-back Delon Armitage who was born in San Fernando, Trinidad and has vowed to cheer on the islands' footballers against England on Thursday scored twice in the first half.
The Saxons led 20-5 at the break with another try by the Saracens wing Richard Haughton, replied to by Canada's centre Nik Witkowski. Playing into a strong wind in the second half, England collected further tries by the Worcester No 8 Kai Horstmann, soon-to-be Sale centre Chris Bell and flanker Ben Woods, of Newcastle.
The fly-half Ander Monro kicked two penalties for Canada, with his opposite number Dave Walder collecting four conversions and a penalty. Canada had the second row Matt Phinney sent off for punching.
The English will now contest third place in Edmonton on Saturday against Ireland A. Their conquerors in last night's Pool B decider, New Zealand Maori, will face Scotland A, the Saxons' conquerors, for the title.
Wales play in Argentina this evening. Gareth Jenkins, the new head coach, introduces the young Ospreys Ian Evans, at lock, and Alun Wyn Jones on the blind-side flank to face a strong Pumas selection.
Jenkins' other cunning plan making all the calls in Welsh might have to be postponed, given that the game takes place in Puerto Madryn, Patagonia, where thanks to their 19th-century settler roots a fair few of the locals speak... Welsh.Reuse content