Sport Rugby

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Ireland................... 40 new zealand........... 29


Restored to the side and in vintage form he was quite simply marvellous and totally committed to the cause.

The skipper's 98th cap was full of grit and determination. He inspired those around him and thoroughly deserved this.

Fully utilised his left boot and pace. What a leap in the second half and also took his try well.

Scored the second try and a huge presence throughout, the All Blacks didn't have a back rower to match him.

Marshalling the midfield as usual, this was a performance dedicated to tackling and then doing it all again.

The target man at the lineout and though he badly missed one key tackle, he kept going to the end.

The fulcrum and what a try. He even kicked a penalty and buried Savea late on to help create the last score.

Using his game intelligence, he kept getting in the right place at the right time and, like Best, earned this one.

Worked so hard off the ball and when it mattered most the Ulsterman was the one knocking black shirts down.

He too did sterling work in defence and contributed much to shaking the All Blacks to their core.

Yet again couldn't finish the game and this time he led the line and the misses didn't thankfully matter.

Nabbed Ireland's second try and was in destructive form before he innocuously tumbled and was worryingly carted from the field.

Pulled off a great choke tackle and with Payne helped steady the ship before nailing the game with his try.

There to constantly graft and how he did it until he was finally called ashore for Ultan Dillane's energy.

What a work-rate and one great choke tackle, he worked himself into the ground to get this result.

Josh van der Flier for Murphy 25mins: Great effort. 9/10; Finlay Bealham for Furlong 60: Big game. 9/10; Joey Carbery for Sexton 57: Superb debut. 8/10; Cian Healy for McGrath 60: Not a bad replacement. 8/10; Ultan Dillane for Ryan 67: Energetic. 8/10; Sean Cronin for Best 70: Held his nerve. 8/10

YES, it really did happen. A truly astonishing moment with more sporting history being made in Chicago except this time it was Ireland who, for the first time in 29 attempts and 111 years, finally downed the mighty All Blacks.

All the pain and hurt of never being able to beat New Zealand since they began playing each other back in 1905 was wiped clean by a quite simply stunning performance by Ireland at Soldier Field.

That devastating last minute loss from November 2013 was clinically avenged by Joe Schmidt's side who scored five tries against the world champions and brought their record breaking 19 consecutive Test wins to a shuddering halt.

All the squad were heroes to a man with Jordi Murphy, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Simon Zebo and Robbie Henshaw crossing the New Zealand line, Henshaw's late effort sealing it.

Jonathan Sexton kicked two conversions and two penalties with Conor Murray adding one three-pointer and Joe Carbery, on his debut, landing a conversion.

And, this time, they resisted the All Black revival to thoroughly deserve their place as the first Irish senior side to claim the All Blacks scalp.

A painstakingly accurate and varied game-plan rocked the All Blacks to their core and Ireland did all the damage in the first half when they thoroughly deserved their 25-8 interval lead after scoring three tries against the mighty Blacks while only conceding one early on.

It had started well for Ireland with Jonathan Sexton landing a third minute penalty but it didn't last and after Murray put up a box-kick from the restart, Waisake Naholo surged through the Irish midfield.

The Kiwi winger was held by Zebo but the ball bounced off Kieran Read's face and over the line for George Moala to dive on it. The try was awarded by the TMO but Beauden Barrett missed the extras.

The All Blacks were then reduced to 14 after prop Joe Moody was sin-binned for a tip tackle on Henshaw. It gave Ireland a glimmer and they struck from a lineout maul.

Referee Mathieu Raynal went upstairs again before the ninth minute try was awarded to Murphy. Sexton landed an excellent conversion and the men in green now led 10-5.

Ireland then came again seven minutes later. Sexton's superb penalty touch finder set up the lineout deep in All Black territory and after Kearney had slipped two tackles before being hauled down just short, CJ Stander picked up and drove over to score.

Sexton, though, was wide with the conversion. Barrett then got Ireland's lead back to 15-8 but, at the restart, Kearney claimed the ball and the result was another penalty to Schmidt's men which was dispatched by Sexton to restore the 10-point lead.

A Sexton bomb then caused chaos at the back for the Blacks and, after Murray claimed it, Ireland took it through a few phases before the scrum-half spotted a gap at a ruck and raced through to dot down.

Sexton converted the 34th minute try and now the Irish led 25-8 which was how the first half ended, with Schmidt's side still in the ascendancy.

And this continued in the second half with a fourth try coming in the 47th minute, a lineout maul from a high tackle penalty rumbling forward before the ball was moved left and Sexton gave Zebo the scoring pass.

The out-half missed the difficult conversion but now Ireland led 30-8. This was cut to 30-15 after TJ Perenara's 51st minute try and Barrett's conversion.

That started the comeback and four minutes later Ben Smith stretched over in the corner with Barrett nailing a critical looking conversion to cut the Irish lead to 30-22. It was game on.

Now Ireland needed to respond and Murray kicked a penalty with Sexton now hobbling off and debutant Joe Carbery coming on.

The world champions suddenly began to up the gears and sub Scott Barrett surged over, his brother's conversion cutting the lead to just four points with 17 minutes left.

Now we were set for another nail-shredding finish as Ireland tried to hold on with Andrew Trimble leading the way with devastating hits.

Panic now began to spread through All Black ranks and after Savea was dumped behind his line by Murray, Ireland had the five-metre scrum and from Heaslip's break Henshaw barrelled over and Carbery converted.

At 40-29 with five minutes to play it was all over, Carbery's missed late penalty not a factor in the outcome.

Ireland had finally done it and now they go again on Saturday week when the All Blacks come to the Aviva.

Belfast Telegraph

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