Ir­ish bring down All Blacks

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

IRE­LAND ended a cen­tury-long los­ing streak to claim a his­toric first-ever win over New Zealand on Novem­ber 5 in Chicago, 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 fly-half 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.”

The mo­ments be­fore the match had seen Ire­land pay an emo­tional trib­ute to beloved for­mer in­ter­na­tional An­thony Fo­ley, who died sud­denly last month at the age of 42.

As New Zealand lined up to per­form their tra­di­tional haka, Ire­land’s play­ers stood be­fore them in a fig­ure of eight – a ref­er­ence to Fo­ley’s po­si­tion.

“We felt it was the right thing to do,” Best said. “There was a lot of emo­tion.” Ir­ish seize com­mand early Once the game got un­der way, Ire­land wasted no time in ex­ploit­ing New Zealand’s weak­ness at sec­ond row.

Johnny Sex­ton kicked Ire­land ahead with a penalty af­ter only four min­utes when French ref­eree Mathieu Ray­nal whis­tled the All Blacks for not rolling away at the break­down.

But New Zealand hit back im­me­di­ately with the open­ing try of the game, Ge­orge Moala finishing off af­ter Waisake Na­holo’s elec­tri­fy­ing break.

Fly-half Beau­den Bar­rett scuffed his con­ver­sion at­tempt to leave New Zealand’s lead at 5-3.

Ire­land were then handed a cru­cial ad­van­tage af­ter All Black prop Joe Moody was sin-binned for a clear tip tackle on Hen­shaw.

The en­su­ing 10-minute pe­riod saw Ire­land score 12 unan­swered point through tries from Jordi Murphy and CJ Stander to make it 15-5.

Bar­rett closed the gap to seven points with a penalty af­ter Ire­land were offside but Sex­ton re­stored Ire­land’s 10-point lead with a fur­ther three-pointer.

Ire­land were forced to make a change in the 26th minute when Murphy was stretchered off with what looked like a knee in­jury, re­placed by Josh van der Flier.

But the dis­rup­tion was fleet­ing, with scrum-half Conor Mur­ray dum­my­ing Aaron Smith to scam­per over for Ire­land’s third try. Sex­ton con­verted to make it 25-8 at half-time. All Blacks charge late The sec­ond half be­gan with New Zealand look­ing sharper and faster, but it was Ire­land who scored next, Sex­ton feed­ing Si­mon Zebo for 30-8.

Yet New Zealand roared back through tries from re­place­ment scrum-half TJ Per­e­nara and Ben Smith to take the score to 30-22.

A Mur­ray penalty put Ire­land 3322 ahead but a 64th minute try by All Black debu­tant lock Scott Bar­rett, took New Zealand back to 33-27.

Brother Beau­den added the con­ver­sion and New Zealand were sud­denly within four.

Ire­land’s de­fend­ers re­sisted fu­ri­ous late pres­sure, though, and Hen­shaw crashed over with four min­utes to go to com­plete a mag­nif­i­cent win. –

Photo: AFP

CJ Stander of Ire­land tack­les Owen Franks of the New Zealand All Blacks dur­ing the in­ter­na­tional match be­tween Ire­land and New Zealand at Sol­dier Field on Novem­ber 5 in Chicago, USA.

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