The Ireland team we’d like to see face the All Blacks in the second test

Ireland

Ireland were brought crashing back down to Earth by the All Blacks at Eden Park and they will need a big response in order to keep the test series alive.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Ireland on Saturday, as they put together some good pieces of play and were unlucky not to have scored more, although New Zealand’s ability to counter-attack decided the contest.

Despite the 23-point loss there weren’t too many poor individual performances, although any small mistakes were ruthlessly punished by New Zealand and will need to be cut out in Dunedin.

Check out the Ireland team we would like to see face the All Blacks below.

Front row.

Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan and Tadhg Furlong.

Ireland’s scrum buckled under the pressure against the All Blacks, but with so many front row players currently unavailable, Andy Farrell has been left with limited options.

Andrew Porter was very good in open play, although he gave away a number of penalties in the scrum and continues to struggle to adjust to loosehead, having switched from tighthead at the start of the season.

Dan Sheehan was also excellent in open play although a couple of lineout throws went astray, while Tadhg Furlong was solid in all areas in the first test.

Second row.

Tadhg Beirne and James Ryan.

Ireland’s second row performed quite well in the first test, although they will know that they can and need to be better in the second encounter with the All Blacks in Dunedin.

Tadhg Beirne did well after missing the end of Munster’s season due to injury, although he will be hoping to have more of an impact on the breakdown this Saturday, while James Ryan will aim to tidy up Ireland’s lineout.

Back Row.

Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan.

Although Peter O’Mahony wasn’t as effective at the breakdown as he often is, the Munster captain put in an all-round performance and came in handy as captain when Johnny Sexton left the field.

Josh van der Flier’s performance was overshadowed by the loss, but the Leinster flanker was exceptional with and without the ball as he came up with 11 carries and 18 tackles.

Caelan Doris was busy in defence but quiet in attack in Auckland, and Jack Conan made more of an impact off the bench with plenty of powerful carries and deserves to start in Dunedin.

Half-backs.

Jamison Gibson-Park and Joey Carbery.

Although Ireland’s attack faltered at times, Gibson-Park did all that was asked of him as he delivered quick ball from the base of the ruck and kept New Zealand’s defence guessing.

Johnny Sexton may be available for the second test, should his first failed HIA be overturned by two passed tests, although Joey Carbery is the obvious replacement if the Ireland captain is ruled out, having played quite well off the bench.

Centres.

Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw.

Ireland’s Bundee Aki hasn’t put a foot wrong on his return to New Zealand, having played very well against the Māori on Wednesday while he added plenty of physicality off the bench against the All Blacks.

Garry Ringrose did some things well at Eden Park, as he finished off a good try, but he also gave a loose pass which led to a breakaway Sevu Reece try and missed a crucial tackle on Ardie Savea.

Robbie Henshaw was very good in attack and defence in a losing effort on Saturday and has proved in the past that he can play just as well at outside centre as he can at inside centre.

Back three.

James Lowe, Mack Hansen and Hugo Keenan.

Although James Lowe wasn’t given much space in the first test he still managed to make plenty of metres due to some powerful carries while his left boot continues to come in handy for clearance kicks.

Keith Earls did well to score the first try of the game, although he was quiet after the opening period, while Mack Hansen will offer more x-factor should he be fully recovered from Covid-19.

Hugo Keenan wasn’t massively involved at Eden Park but he was solid at the back and he gave a lovely pass to Keith Earls for the opening try of the game.

Replacements.

Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Tom O’Toole, Ryan Baird, Caelan Doris, Conor Murray, Ciarán Frawley and Garry Ringrose.

Ireland have had their fair share of injuries on tour, which has left Andy Farrell with limited options on the bench for the second test.

Rob Herring missed the first two games on tour due to injury although he is returning to full training this week and will hopefully be ready to come off the bench at the weekend.

Ciarán Frawley had some good moments and some bad against the Māori, although he is a talented operator who can fill in at either 10 or 12 if needed, while Ringrose can cover at centre and on the wing.

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