Ireland 29 New Zealand 20
Just because it’s happened three times in five years, beating New Zealand doesn't get any less special for Ireland.
Only a couple of months ago, they and their coach Andy Farrell were under pressure.
Questions were asked, but now they’ve been answered.
Sure, it’s only November. OK, the All Blacks are at the tail-end of a long, draining tour but this was a restorative win for the Irish players who had been obliterated by the same opposition in Tokyo.
It was utterly deserved, Ireland dominated from the off and only New Zealand’s brilliant goal-line defence, some suspect refereeing and wondrous attacking ability kept them in it.
Andrew Porter has been hiding in plain sight in this Irish team. Now, on the loosehead side of the scrum, he’s a force of nature. Caelan Doris was outstanding, Jamison Gibson-Park, James Lowe and Bundee Aki all making a difference against their home nation.
The Munster contingent came off the bench to close it out brilliantly. Turnovers from Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Beirne set up Joey Carbery, the boy from Dargaville on the North island by way of Athy, Co Kildare, to close it out.
The crowd, a first full-house in nearly two years, made a difference from the moment they drowned out the Haka with ‘The Fields of Athenry’.
They should have been more comfortable, but they can figure that out in the meeting rooms this week. Last night was a night to bask in their achievement.
Ireland were so dominant but at the end of a remarkable first-half, New Zealand somehow led 10-5 despite spending 10 minutes with a man in the sin-bin and losing Beauden Barrett and Anton Lienert-Brown to injury.
Had they not finished the job, Ireland would have had so many regrets about that first-half.
They scored first with a try of huge quality from James Lowe, but Johnny Sexton’s missed conversion fed into a story of missed opportunities.
They came out like a team possessed, winning the early collisions, dominating the New Zealand pack but the black wall held firm.
Ireland’s execution wasn’t quite where it needed to be and they had some rare defending to do after 10 minutes, with Beauden Barrett finding Will Jordan in space with a measured kick. Jordie Barrett’s strong carry was repelled by a brilliant Conway tackle and Ronan Kelleher turned the ball back over.
New Zealand lost hooker Codie Taylor to a yellow card for a swinging arm that connected with Sexton’s head and the captain went to the corner to make the advantage count.
Ireland attacked off the top, working both sides to earn advantage before moving it wide through Hugo Keenan’s brilliant pass that put Lowe one on one with Jordie Barrett and he finished brilliantly.
Sexton’s touchline conversion drifted wide and Doris’s spill from the kick-off led to Henderson handing the younger Barrett a chance to narrow the gap.
Ireland surged back at them, Conway winning the restart and Doris forcing a brilliant turnover on Will Jordan but the chance came and went as Ireland again fell foul of referee Luke Pearce at the ruck.
Despite losing Beauden Barrett, the Kiwis kept their defensive shape and Ethan Blackadder made a key goalline turnover after brilliant attacking from Lowe and Garrry Ringrose.
Ireland did get over for what they thought was a second try, but as Tadhg Furlong celebrated the ref’s attention was drawn to a Kelleher offence in the build up and instead Richie Mo’unga – on for Barrett who failed a Head Injury Assessment – kicked clear.
Andrew Porter then followed it up with a penalty for blocking, handing the All Blacks the attacking position they needed. They weren’t going to be asked twice.
Ireland will be raging at their defensive effort as the men in black went off the top. Kelleher drifted as Furlong seemed to be issuing instructions inside, failing to notice Dalton Papali’I surging past. He found Taylor on his shoulder and when Barrett converted the score was 10-5.
It stayed that way through to half time despite another couple of Ireland visits to New Zealand territory coming up short.
The half finished with a lineout slipping through James Ryan’s hands, summing up Ireland’s tendency to shoot themselves in the foot.
Still, they emerged from the dressing-room full of belief and levelled within four minutes as Sexton executed a classic wraparound play to get close to the line and this time Kelleher wouldn’t be denied from close range.
Sexton’s conversion hit the post, but as they made mistake after mistake Ireland finally made their dominance count as Doris brushed Taylor aside and raced in from the edge of the ’22. This time, the captain nailed his kick.
The All Blacks were rattled, but Ireland missed another chance from a Jamison Gibson-Park 50:22 kick that landed on the 5m line.
Still, the green waves came and Taylor’s offside handed Sexton a chance to make it a 10-point game and he delivered.
Gibson-Park had to be sharp to deny Sevu Reece from TJ Peranara’s chip as Ireland settled into a pattern of tactical kicking and New Zealand struck.
A beautiful wide pass from David Havili’I put Will Jordan into space, his chip was perfect for Rieko Ioane and he returned the favour to put the winger over.
Pearce wasn’t interested in footage that appeared to show Ioane ahead of the kicker so Barrett made it a three-point game.
Ireland lost Sexton to injury, but Joey Carbery came in and kicked a penalty to make it 23-17 with his first touch.
Back came the All Blacks, putting together their best string of attacking phases as Mo’unga found Jordan with a superb chip ahead. They thought they’d scored, but Rieko Ioane’s pass to his brother Akira was forward.
Pearce was playing advantage, so Barrett took the three points and as the benches emptied Lowe made a big read to cut off a surging New Zealand counter. Peter O’Mahony followed it up with a big breakdown penalty and Joey Carbery nailed the penalty from the halfway line.
The crowd began to celebrate, but with five minutes remaining there was no room for the team to settle until Tadhg Beirne won a breakdown penalty in front of the posts.
Carbery nailed his kick, they’d done it again.
Scorers: Ireland - J Lowe, R Kelleher, C Doris try each, J Sexton con, pen, J Carbery 3 pens. New Zealand - C Taylor, W Jordan try each, J Barrett pen, con
Ireland: .H Keenan; A Conway, G Ringrose, B Aki (K Earls 72), J Lowe; J Sexton (capt) (J Carbery 65), J Gibson-Park (C Murray 72); A Porter (C Healy 76), R Kelleher (R Herring 59), T Furlong (F Bealham 65); I Henderson (T Beirne 48), J Ryan; C Doris, J Conan, J van der Flier (P O’Mahony 59).
New Zealand: J Barrett; W Jordan, R Ioane, A Lienert-Brown (D Havili’I 39), S Reece; B Barrett (R Mo’unga HIA 22), TJ Peranara; J Moody (K Tu’inukuafe 53), C Taylor (D Coles 53), N Laulala (T Lomax 53); B Retallick, S Whitelock (capt); E Blackadder (D Coles 20-24) (A Ioane 61), A Savea, D Papali’i.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England).