IRELAND'S second string side will be looking to stoke up the pressure on New Zealand rugby as a whole when they face the Maori All Blacks in their second encounter at Wellington on Tuesday morning.
If Ireland had lost Saturday’s second Test in Dunedin then this game would have been built as somewhat of a tour saver, as Andy Farrell and his squad would have been extremely keen to ensure they did not get whitewashed in all five games.
However, the historic 23-12 victory at the Forsyth Barr Stadium ensures that this trip will now be deemed a success regardless of how the second Maori game and the last Test go.
That first ever win for Ireland over the All Blacks on Kiwi soil has the effect of taking the pressure off, from an Ireland perspective.
They can now really remove the shackles and play with abandon and enjoy these last two fixtures.
Conversely, the pressure in the New Zealand camp is fast reaching breaking point.
The first game between the Maori All Blacks and Ireland seems an age ago now, considering what has transpired in the two Tests since.
Ultimately Ireland were well beaten that night, going down 32-17 in Hamilton.
The Maoris simply walloped Ireland in the second quarter, scoring four tries between the 18th and 40th minutes to put the game to bed.
To Ireland’s credit they did come out fighting in the second half, and scored the only try of the half through the impressive Gavin Coombes late on, but a comeback never looked likely.
In the first half of that game some of Ireland’s younger players looked like rabbits caught in the headlights of the Maori machine.
Up front young lock Joe McCarthy looked very raw, but there definitely looks to be a player there, it might just take a couple seasons.
Connacht blindside Cian Prendergast missed a few tackles and gave away a few penalties, while openside Nick Timoney struggled to impose himself in the opening 40 minutes.
After half time they all visibly improved and should be better this week on the back of being thrown into the furnace that was the first match.
Behind the scrum outhalf Ciaran Frawley and full back Jimmy O’Brien were unable to offer any real element of control to proceedings.
They will certainly be looking to make amends on Tuesday.
Ireland’s players on Wednesday will be well aware that they are not playing for selection for the Test decider at the weekend – the Dunedin victory took care of that team selection already – but it gives each and every one of them the opportunity to put down a marker for the future, with next years World Cup in France in mind, in particular.
The Irish first team lost in similar fashion in the first Test to the way the second team lost their first game.
They obviously learned a lot from that defeat and had adapted brilliantly come the second Test.
The hope is that the second team will have learned in similar fashion for Tuesday, as another Irish win will see the New Zealand media and public reaching for the panic button in the build up to the final Test in Wellington this Saturday.