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New Zealand 48 – 10 Ireland

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Jerome Hughes impressed as New Zealand topped Group C with a superb World Cup win over Ireland.

New Zealand half-back Jerome Hughes showed his class on his World Cup debut, helping his side top Group C with a 48-10 win over Ireland at Headingley.

There was no answer to the silky skills of the Melbourne scrum-half, but the Kiwis have missed their first two matches through injury, but they played with great spirit, with winger Lewis Sr. scoring a try in each half to inspire their fans. Leads the scoring charts with six touchdowns in three games.

It was a big improvement on the Wolvehounds’ costly 32-14 defeat against Lebanon, but the Cedars will see their exit from the tournament confirmed if they beat Jamaica in Leigh on Sunday.

New Zealand hit their suspenders with 10 tries but faced a disciplinary problem with fireman Jared Veria-Hargreaves serving a suspended three-match NRL ban for a foul tackle on replacement front rower. Dan Norman just before halftime.

Norman again played no part in the game after failing to assess his head injury, and Ireland also lost another substitute, Henry O’Kane, early in the game.

The Wolfhounds went into the match without three of their top forwards due to injury and suspension, but they were by no means humiliated against their world number one opponents.

They had huge support among the 14,044 crowd and had plenty to cheer about in the opening stages as Ed Chamberlain put them ahead with a 12th-minute penalty for a stolen ball.

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But partisan fans had no choice but to applaud the brilliant skills of Hughes and his halfback partner Dylan Brown, who were paired for the first time in the tournament.

Hughes displayed electric footwork for the first try following a careless offload from Irish prop James Hassan, who curled a pinpoint kick into the corner for winger Jordan Rapana to score the second goal.

The Melbourne halfback offered a deft kick for center Peta Hiku to score his first try, before Warrington offered the former star halfback for the second.

Meanwhile, the senior brought the biggest cheer of the evening when he picked off Briton Nikora’s pass to sprint 40 yards for Ireland’s try.

New Zealand were temporarily reduced to 12 men on 37 minutes when Vereya-Hargreaves was yellow-carded, but left-winger Ronaldo Mulitalo managed to find an easy score.

New Zealand scored 10 tries in the match at Headingley, Leeds

New Zealand scored 10 tries in the match at Headingley, Leeds

With the Kiwis leading 24-6 at the break, Rapana slipped in the corner for his second try seven minutes into the second half. Rower James Fisher-Harris wobbled the Irish legs for their seventh try.

Rapana managed just two of his five attempts in the first half, but Brown returned to goalkeeping duties when he scored his first two kicks and eventually converted Hughes’ second try in time.

That was the signal for coach Michael Maguire Hughes to give Hughes a break, but Ireland were restless as substitute Kieran Foran lifted a high kick from which second-rower Kenny Bromwich scored his side’s ninth try.

Brown’s second goal made it 44-6 but Ireland made it to double figures in the 65th minute when the senior grabbed his second try of the night after pouncing on a handling error by Mulitalo.

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The Kiwis had the last laugh when classy full back Joey Manu netted his 10th try.

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