Friday 9 December 2016

Field of dreams sees Ireland claim historic All Blacks' scalp

Ireland 40 New Zealand 29

Published 06/11/2016 | 02:30

Ireland’s Conor Murray and team-mate Simon Zebo can hardly contain their emotions on an historic night for Irish rugby. Photo: Brendan Moran
Ireland’s Conor Murray and team-mate Simon Zebo can hardly contain their emotions on an historic night for Irish rugby. Photo: Brendan Moran

History in Chicago. The long wait is over. After 111 years of trying, Ireland have finally beaten the All Blacks, and they thoroughly deserved it after a game that was eerily reminiscent of the 2013 clash - only this time Robbie Henshaw had the final say.

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The men in green were well worth their win, eschewing their kicking game to ground and pound at the home of the Chicago Bears, while dominating an under-strength New Zealand pack at set-piece time.

Debut cap Scott Barrett of New Zealand touches down to score his team's third try. Photo: Getty
Debut cap Scott Barrett of New Zealand touches down to score his team's third try. Photo: Getty

The world champions fought back from 30-8 down to make it a one-score game, but the Athlone native's try sealed it, ending New Zealand's 18-game winning streak.

Ireland were brilliant, with Rob Kearney giving his critics something to chew on with a fantastic display and Conor Murray having the game of his life. The pack were dominant, the discipline was good and when the storm inevitably came they held their nerve.

Johnny Sexton opened the scoring with a penalty, but within seconds the All Blacks showed just how potent they could be as Waisake Naholo sailed through a gap between Ireland's centres. Simon Zebo caught the big winger and CJ Stander got a hand to his off-load, but the ball came off Kieran Read's head and George Moala pounced to score.

Beauden Barrett missed the conversion and Ireland reacted well with Rob Kearney attacking from the kick-off and the men in green holding possession.

Jamie Heaslip of Ireland rejoices. Photo: Getty
Jamie Heaslip of Ireland rejoices. Photo: Getty

They got a break when Joe Moody tipped Robbie Henshaw beyond the horizontal and Raynal opted to hand the loosehead prop 10 minutes in the bin. It could have been worse.

Ireland went to their maul and the All Blacks hauled it down. Sexton kicked a kickable penalty to touch and from 5m they drove over with Jordi Murphy touching down.

Sexton capped the instant response by landing the touch-line conversion.

New Zealand's discipline continued to cost them as Liam Squire went high on Henshaw and Ireland again went to touch. A loose lineout was rescued by Devin Toner and Ireland went wide with penalty advantage and Kearney broke Aaron Smith's tackle - and was stopped short of the line by a despairing Read effort, but CJ Stander picked and powered through Jerome Kaino to score.

Ireland players celebrate as the final whistle blows. Photo: Getty
Ireland players celebrate as the final whistle blows. Photo: Getty

Moody returned and Barrett narrow the gap to seven from right in front after Murphy held on, but Kearney claimed the kick-off and Ireland attacked yet again, Murray cleverly worked a penalty off Dane Coles and Sexton restored his side's lead.

Just as the All Blacks looked like they were getting some momentum, Henshaw and Rory Best held up Jerome Kaino with a choke tackle and both teams lost men as Ryan Crotty and Murphy were forced off - with the Ireland flanker in real trouble as he left the field. After the long delay, New Zealand looked to get their game going but Ireland held out over two long defensive sets with Donnacha Ryan stripping Barrett and Conor Murray cleared.

The scrum-half was minutes later celebrating his third try against the All Blacks. He collected a bouncing Sexton kick before the out-half made yards and Murray dummied past Smith to score under the posts. Sexton needed treatment, but got up and nailed the conversion to make it 25-8 at half-time.

Watch: Here are all the tries as Ireland produce masterclass first half against All Blacks  

A glum New Zealand team taste defeat. Photo: Getty
A glum New Zealand team taste defeat. Photo: Getty

Moody was penalised for a high tackle on Kearney and Sexton brilliantly found the corner. Ireland's maul came down, but Murray went blind and Sexton found Zebo to make it 30-8. Sexton missed the conversion and then miscued a kick to touch and he was punished as Coles off-loaded to Peranara to score.

Barrett's conversion narrowed the gap to 15 points and Ireland were on the back-foot.

Then Barrett's off-load put Ben Smith in the corner after Ireland lost a crucial lineout. Barrett converted, but an obstruction from the kick-out allowed Murray knock over a penalty with Sexton getting treatment.

The out-half went off and Joey Carbery came on for his debut. The gap narrowed further when Liam Squire slipped Scott Barrett through a gap and he stepped Rob Kearney to score.

His brother converted and suddenly it was a one-score game.

Knock-ons from Julian Savea and Charlie Faumuina kept Ireland in the game as the tension mounted. Ireland needed something and, from a solid scrum on their own 10m line, they went wide. Jared Payne's brilliant pass released Zebo, who chipped ahead. The chase was excellent and Murray and Trimble nailed Julian Savea over his own line. From the scrum, Jamie Heaslip executed a switch with Henshaw who went over. Carbery converted for his first points in international rugby to finish the job as he and 22 others cemented their place in history.

New Zealand v Ireland: Edge of the seat drama in final moments of epic clash with All Blacks  

End of one era and the start of a new dawn

Scorers - Ireland: (Murphy, Stander, Murray, Zebo, Henshaw try each; Sexton 2 pens, 2 cons, Murray pen, Carberry con) New Zealand: (Barrett try, pen, 3 cons, Moala, Perenara, B Smith try each)
Ireland: R Kearney; A Trimble, J Payne, R Henshaw, S Zebo; J Sexton (J Carbery 59), C Murray; J McGrath (C Healy 6), R Best (capt, S Cronin 71), T Furlong (F Bealham 57); D Ryan (U Dillane 65), D Toner; CJ Stander, J Murphy (J van der Flier 26), J Heaslip.
New Zealand: B Smith; W Naholo (A Cruden 59), G Moala (C Taylor 72), R Crotty (M Fekitoa 26), J Savea; B Barrett, A Smith (TJ Peranara 45); J Moody (O Tu'ungafasi ), D Coles, O Franks (C Faumuina 60); J Kaino (S Barrett 46), P Tuitulotu; L Squire, S Cane (A Savea 60), K Read (capt)
Referee: M Raynal (France)

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