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Ireland forced into late change

By PA
Finlay Bealham scores for Ireland (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

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Ireland were forced into a late change ahead of their first Test in New Zealand after replacement prop Finlay Bealham tested positive for Covid-19.

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Tom O’Toole replaced Bealham on the bench at a sold-out Eden Park in Auckland – a ground where the All Blacks have not lost since 1994.

Ireland have won three of the past five meetings between the sides but have never been victorious on New Zealand soil.

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Dan Biggar speaks about the face-off with Elton Jantjies
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Dan Biggar speaks about the face-off with Elton Jantjies

Wing Keith Earls was the only player to retain a starting spot following the midweek warm-up defeat to the Maori All Blacks, while the Irish starting XV included New Zealand-born duo Jamison Gibson-Park and James Lowe.

New Zealand led 7-5 just after the midway point of the first half.

Earls got the tourists off to a dream start inside six minutes by capping an outstanding team move to claim his 35th international try at the end of patient, sustained pressure.

But the All Blacks hit back with their first attack of the game as full-back Jordie Barrett bulldozed over and then converted.

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Ireland faded fast from the promising start and found themselves 28-5 behind at the break and having lost captain Johnny Sexton to a head knock.

The Irish contributed to their own downfall as a poor pass from Garry Ringrose allowed the rapid Sevu Reece to zoom clear from inside his own 22 and dive over.

Influential fly-half Sexton then departed to be replaced by Joey Carbery having slipped into Sam Cain in the build-up.

The clinical All Blacks swiftly punished their visitors, with quick-fire tries from Quinn Tupaea and Ardie Savea stretching the scoreboard and Jordie Barrett perfect from the kicking tee.

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