Ireland 0 New Zealand 25
Ireland were staring down the barrel of a heavy defeat as rampant New Zealand ran in three first-half tries at Lansdowne Road.
Winger Sitiveni Sivivatu touched down twice and scrum-half Piri Weepu also crossed while Nick Evans kicked 10 points to put the All Blacks in a strong position for the second half.
It was not all one-way traffic, however, with Ireland going desperately close to scoring shortly before the interval when Malcolm O’Kelly and Johnny O’Connor were held up just short of the line.
Lansdowne Road was brought to its feet with just two minutes on the clock when a long pass from Ronan O'Gara, combined with suspect positioning from All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu, 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 were let down by poor decision making, Gordon D’Arcy going alone when he should have used the men on his shoulder and Shane Horgan passing to Shane Byrne when half a gap had appeared before him.
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, assisted by some sloppy home defending.
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.
Fly-half Nick Evans slotted the conversion and the All Blacks would have extended their lead had Eaton passed immediately to McCaw instead of trying to burst his way through.
They broke through in the 21st minute, however, when a switch with Evans sent McCaw screaming into space and the openside had the presence of mind to supply the scoring pass to Piri Weepu.
New Zealand were moving through the gears ominously and Ireland were not helping themselves with D’Arcy’s loose pass turning over possession and initiating a fresh All Black assault.
Munster scrum-half Peter Stringer made a try-saving tackle on McCaw in a rare bright spot for the home side who were making too many unforced errors, including at one crucial stage when D’Arcy had released the fumbling Murphy into space.
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.
Their ambition did not pay off as the All Blacks broke away shortly after, Weepu ghosting behind the Ireland defence and sending Sivivatu over for the tourists’ third try. Evans landed the conversion.