Ireland v NZ RLWC2021

A Peta Hiku hat-trick has helped New Zealand knock off Ireland 48-10 and seal the top spot in Group C.

The Kiwis have finished the group stage with a third consecutive win after proving far too strong for the Irish at Headingley.

Ireland started well, and almost had a damaging break down the left after five minutes, but Luke Keary’s pass was ruled forward.

The Kiwis were sloppy early and struggled to get into a rhythm.

The Irish took the lead in the 11th minute thanks to a penalty goal from Ed Chamberlain.

But it lasted just four minutes, with Jahrome Hughes stepping his way through traffic to score.

Jordan Rapana added the extra to make it 6-0.

The Wolfhounds were giving away too many penalties and Six Agains, and in the 20th minute, New Zealand scored again.

Hughes’ kick to the corner was perfect for Rapana to cross untouched.

The winger missed his kick, so the score remained 10-2.

In the 26th minute, Hughes set up another try with a kick, with this time Peta Hiku diving over.

The Melbourne Storm star was tormenting the Irish with his impressive kicking game.

Rapana made it 16-2 and the Kiwis were cruising.

But the loudest roar of the crowd came when Louis Senior intercepted a Briton Nikora pass to hit back for Ireland.

Chamberlain missed the conversion, however they were back in it at 16-6.

New Zealand resumed service soon after, with Hiku streaking away down the right flank for his second four-pointer of the night.

Rapana was unable to convert the try from the sideline.

With three minutes left in the half, a stoush erupted after Jared Waerea-Hargreaves hit Dan Norman high with an ugly shot.

He was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes, though it didn’t stop the Kiwis from adding try number four, with Ronaldo Mulitalo showing a clear pair of heels to touch down in the corner.

Rapana was having an off night with the boot and the men in black went into the sheds 24-6 in front.

The Wolfhounds needed a response in the second half, but eight minutes in it was Hiku who dived over for his hat-trick.

Rapana missed the conversion from out wide.

In the 55th minute, it was James Fisher-Harris who bulldozed his way over the line, Rapana again missing with his kick.

Ireland were dropping off more tackles, then Hughes brought up his brace with some fancy footwork.

With 18 minutes left Kenny Bromwich pounced on an Irish error to make it 42-6, with Dylan Brown nailing the conversion.

In the 65th minute, Ireland picked up a consolation try when Mulitalo spilled a kick in his in-goal area and Senior dived on the ball.

With two minutes left in the game, Joey Manu strolled over to put the icing on the Kiwi win.

New Zealand 48

Tries: J. Hughes (15), J. Rapana (20), P. Hiku (26), P. Hiku (33), R. Mulitalo (38), J. Rapana (46), J. Fisher-Harris (55), J. Hughes (60), K. Bromwich (63), J. Manu (79)

Goals: J. Rapana (17), J. Rapana (28), D. Brown (61), D. Brown (64)

Ireland 10

Tries: L. Senior (29), L. Senior (67)

Goals: E. Chamberlain (12)

John is a freelance journalist who has been writing about rugby league for the past decade. He covered the 2013 and 2017 World Cups, has appeared on TV and radio, and been published in The I-Paper, The Guardian, The Sun, The Mirror, League Express, Inside Sport magazine and Big League. He writes regularly for Forty-20 magazine, League Weekly and co-hosts the podcasts By the Balls and Six To Go.