Ire­land stun N Zealand to claim first win over All Blacks

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

CHICAGO: Ire­land ended a cen­tu­ry­long los­ing streak to claim a his­toric first-ever win over New Zealand here Satur­day, send­ing the All Blacks spin­ning to a 40-29 de­feat with a scin­til­lat­ing dis­play. Just days af­ter the Windy City erupted in cel­e­bra­tion af­ter the Chicago Cubs landed their first World Se­ries base­ball crown in 108 years, Ire­land booted their own 111-year rugby hoodoo firmly into touch.

Roared on by army of green-clad fans in a 62,300 crowd at Sol­dier Field, the Ir­ish outscored the All Blacks by five tries to four to seal their first win over the Ki­wis in the 29th in­stal­ment of a ri­valry dat­ing to 1905.

“It has been a long time com­ing and his­tory (has been) made. We’re ab­so­lutely ec­static,” Ire­land skip­per Rory Best said af­ter lead­ing his team on a rau­cous lap of honor at the famed NFL venue.

“We knew they are a great side. You can see how good a side they are and how much it means to our boys to have won that.” Ire­land were forced to cling on in the clos­ing stages af­ter a fe­ro­cious New Zealand fight­back, which saw the All Blacks re­cover from a 30-8 deficit to go within four points at 33-29 with around 15 min­utes to go.

But with the crowd roar­ing them home, Ire­land scored a fifth and fi­nal try through out­stand­ing cen­ter Rob­bie Hen­shaw, con­verted by re­place­ment fly­half Joey Car­bery, to clinch a fa­mous vic­tory. It was New Zealand’s first de­feat since their loss to Aus­tralia in Au­gust 2015. Only last month, the All Blacks had set a world record for con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries with their 18th win in a row. New Zealand’s prepa­ra­tions for the Test had been thrown into dis­ar­ray by the ab­sence through in­jury of first choice locks Brodie Re­tal­lick and Sam White­lock. The fur­ther ab­sence of sec­ond row Luke Ro­mano fol­low­ing a fam­ily be­reave­ment had forced them into start­ing a makeshift pair­ing of Jerome Kaino and Pa­trick Tuip­u­lotu. But New Zealand coach Steve Hansen re­fused to blame the in­jury cri­sis for the loss. “The right side won,” Hansen said. “The Ir­ish side played very well and con­grat­u­la­tions to them. “We don’t want to use (the in­juries) as an ex­cuse. We trained well enough, we pre­pared well enough, we thought. We’re not go­ing to make any ex­cuses about not hav­ing the right peo­ple.”

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