19 Jun 2010

Maori pip Irish

7:23 am on 19 June 2010

The New Zealand Maori are on track for a clean sweep in their centenary year after beating the Irish rugby team with a 31-28 win in Rotorua, thanks to a late penalty goal.

The Maori scored three tries to one to seal their second straight victory.

A Luke McAlister penalty and tries to Hosea Gear and Dwayne Sweeney got the Maori off to a good start with an 18-3 lead midway though the first half.

Ireland's first-five Jonathan Sexton gradually closed the gap though and his sixth penalty goal tied the scores at 18-all at half-time.

The second-string Irish side started the second half well and their second-five Paddy Wallace put them ahead with a well constructed try, which Sexton converted.

But with about 20 minutes the replacement flanker Karl Lower got the Maori's third try before Sexton's seventh penalty tied the scores again late in the game.

However the home side's replacement first-five Willie RIpia kicked the deciding penalty with eight minutes to go.

The Maori play England in Napier on Wednesday night.