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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 8 July, 2020

The All Blacks must be getting sick of the sight of Conor Murray

The Ireland scrum-half bagged his fourth try against the All Blacks.

Murray Kinsella reports from Wellington

THERE WERE REAL similarities to his effort against the All Blacks in Chicago when Conor Murray crossed for the Lions in the second Test against the Kiwis in Wellington.

While that try for Ireland came from further out, there was also a dummy pass to his right and then a snipe to the right fringe of the ruck.

Conor Murray celebrates winning Murray celebrates the Lions' win. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

And just as CJ Stander had done some clever work ahead of the ball to create some space for Murray in Chicago, Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton made a nuisance of themselves in front of the scrum-half in the Lions’ second Test.

Murray’s 68th minute score was his fourth try against New Zealand – the most he has against a single nation.

While his performance was not perfect in the 24-21 win at Westpac Stadium, with a couple of uncharacteristically wayward kicks, the All Blacks must be getting sick of the sight of the Ireland halfback.

Scoring tries in big wins over New Zealand might even become a habit for Murray, who was proud to experience similar feelings to that November day in Chicago.

“The feeling of beating the All Blacks is there, but just the conditions and the way the game ebbed and flowed – the lads just really dug in for each other and it’s awesome we’ve levelled the series and we go into this week with a bit of a pep in our step,” said the Munster man post-match.

“We’re very proud to be in this group. I think we stuck together and showed a lot of character to stay in the fight. A lot of stuff didn’t go our way today, particularly discipline – silly penalties made it hard for us chasing the game a bit too much but I thought we attacked them and you need to do that against the All Blacks and take your chances.

“That was probably what we didn’t do last week. We didn’t convert enough and that was an area, along with our defence and collision area – which I thought was really, really impressive tonight.

“I just thought we showed a lot of character, dug in and stayed in the fight and came out the right end.”

Maro Itoje, Anthony Watson and Conor Murray celebrate winning Murray with Maro Itoje and Anthony Watson. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Murray’s try was one of two from the Lions on the night, with the All Blacks held try-less for the first time since 2014 against Australia.

The tourists knew they would have to score five-pointers and were delighted to take two second-half chances clinically.

“It’s no secret,” said Murray, “everyone knows you have got to be willing and able to do that [score tries] against the All Blacks if you want to have a chance of winning.

“Toby [Faletau]‘s finish was awesome, and then unbelievable work by Anthony [Watson] down the right wing and cutting back in. Just a willingness to go and play rugby, which is a really pleasing aspect of what we did tonight.

“Jamie [George] broke the line – he has been awesome this tour – and Johnny had a decision to make, and it was the correct decision that paid off. I was just happy to contribute to the performance.”

One of the other major moments in the game came in the first half when Sonny Bill Williams was sent off after a hit for which he faces a judicial hearing on Sunday, when he is likely to be banned from playing in the third Test.

Murray was close to Anthony Watson when the Lions wing took the heavy blow to the head and was one of the several players to immediately appeal vociferously.

“You’re on the pitch, you saw it and it looked illegal,” said Murray. “You see one of your players get hurt and you want the ref to have a look at it.

Conor Murray scores their second try Murray's try was key. Source: Photosport/Raghavan Venugopal/INPHO

“I wasn’t trying to get anyone sent off or anything, it’s just one of those things that happens on the pitch.”

While Williams has further strife ahead, Murray and the Lions will head for Queenstown on Sunday, with the new base set to provide a rare chance for the tourists to relax and have some fun in the early part of next week.

But the Limerick man knows he and his team-mates will struggle to switch off from the real task at hand – shocking the All Blacks and securing an incredible Test series success.

Having experienced the Kiwis’ backlash in Dublin two weekends after Ireland’s win in Chicago, Murray understands what is coming.

“They’re going to be hurting, aren’t they?” he said. “Every time you come close to them or when we beat them [in Chicago], the week after…

“They’ll have a response, they’ll be hurting and they’re at home in Eden Park and it’s going to be a massive challenge.”

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Murray Kinsella

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