His­toric Ire­land win ends record NZ run

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

IRE­LAND stunned New Zealand 40-29 in Chicago on Satur­day to claim a his­toric firstever win over the All Blacks and end the world cham­pi­ons’ record-break­ing 18-match win­ning streak.

In a breath­tak­ing up­set, Ire­land outscored the New Zealan­ders by five tries to four to seal their first win over the Ki­wis in the 29th meet­ing be­tween the two na­tions dat­ing to 1905.

The Sol­dier Field crowd erupted in de­light at the whis­tle, cheer­ing the end of a sec­ond cen­tury-old sport­ing hoodoo in the space of a few days after the city’s Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year World Se­ries base­ball curse on Wed­nes­day.

The Ir­ish were forced to hold off a fe­ro­cious New Zealand fight­back in the sec­ond half, which saw the All Blacks re­cover from a 30-8 deficit to go within four points at 33-29.

But with the ma­jor­ity of fans in a 62 300 sell­out crowd roar­ing them on, Ire­land scored a fifth and fi­nal try through block­bust­ing cen­tre 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.

Ire­land took full ad­van­tage to dom­i­nate New Zealand at the line-out, launch­ing at­tack after at­tack from the set­piece.

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. A sear­ing break from deep in his own half by Waisake Na­holo left Ire­land scram­bling to cover in­side their own 22.

CJ Stander ap­peared to have snuffed out the dan­ger for Ire­land but could not col­lect the loose ball and cen­tre Ge­orge Moala dived over from close range to dot down.

Fly­half 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.

Moody was for­tu­nate to es­cape a red, but Ire­land cap­i­talised to score a try in the cor­ner when Jordi Murphy bar­relled over from a driv­ing maul. Sex­ton’s con­ver­sion made it 10-5.

Ire­land were soon back on the at­tack. Sex­ton’s hang­ing ball to the edge of the 22 was su­perbly plucked from the air by full­back Rob Kear­ney and, after work­ing through the phases, Stander bat­tered over to make it 15-5.

Sex­ton missed the con­ver­sion. Bar­rett closed the gap to seven points with a penalty after Ire­land were off­side but Sex­ton re­stored Ire­land’s 10-point ad­van­tage soon af­ter­wards.

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 as New Zealand, starved of clean pos­ses­sion, strug­gled to gen­er­ate mo­men­tum.

In the 34th minute, Ire­land surged for­wards once more. A pow­er­ful drive left New Zealand on the back foot and from a ruck 10 me­tres out, scrumhalf Conor Murray dum­mied Aaron Smith to scam­per over for Ire­land’s third try. Sex­ton con­verted to make it 25-8 at halftime. The sec­ond half be­gan with New Zealand look­ing sharper and faster, but it was Ire­land who scored next.

An­other at­tack­ing line-out from Ire­land took them close to the New Zealand line and quick ball found Sex­ton who fed Si­mon Zebo for 30-8.

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

A Murray penalty put Ire­land 33-22 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 Ire­land were within four.

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

Andy Murray

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