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Dublin: 2°C Monday 12 April 2021


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Ireland were seconds away from pulling off the greatest shock in their rugby history this afternoon.

This was the 28th time we came up against the All Blacks and we’re still waiting for our first win against them after that heartbreaking finale.

What did you make of the game?

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. E-mail, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Ireland 22-24 New Zealand (Full time)

Welcome along to our liveblog of Ireland’s third and final November Test. After last weekend’s poor performance against Australia, Joe Schmidt’s men need a backlash but it’s certainly not going to be straightforward against the All Blacks. Get your predictions in early… Is there an upset brewing in Dublin or are Ireland set for a rough afternoon?

In case you missed the team announcements this week, here are the two match-day squads. Rumours that Julian Savea picked up a knee injury at the All Blacks’ captain’s run have so far remained just that.

Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O’Connell (Capt.); P O’Mahony, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, D Fitzpatrick, M McCarthy, K McLaughlin, I Boss, I Madigan, L Fitzgerald.

New Zealand: I Dagg; C Jane, B Smith, M Nonu, J Savea; A Cruden, A Smith: W Crockett, A Hore, C Faumuina; L Romano, S Whitelock; S Luatua, R McCaw (Capt.) K Read.

Replacements: D Coles, B Franks, O Franks, B Retallick, S Cane, TJ Perenara, B Barrett, R Crotty.

There is some late injury news on the All Blacks side. Brodie Retallick comes into the starting team in the second row, as Luke Romano drops out ill. That means Liam Messam is now on the bench for the visitors. If anything, this has strengthened the All Blacks. 22-year-old Retallick has seen sensational this season. Keep an eye out for his much-improved and often surprising ability to pass the ball.

©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Both teams are out on the pitch now loosening up before they start their warm-ups proper. Jonny Sexton seems to be kicking the ball with comfort, which is reassuring. We need the out-half at his peak if we’re going to run the All Blacks close today.

While you’re waiting for kick-off, check out the three head-to-head battles we think are crucial.

Joe Schmidt looks to be in relaxed form as he chats to former internationals Shane Horgan and Ronan O’Gara out on the pitch. The Irish players have started their warm-up to an encouraging cheer from those supporters who are in nice and early. Now if the PA system can just let them get on with that…

So who do you see as the key men for Ireland today? Where is this game going to be won and lost? Can Jamie Heaslip stand up to the wonderful Kieran Read? Will Jonny Sexton’s experience see him control the game better than Aaron Cruden?

Both teams have completed their warm-ups and return to the changing rooms for the final words from their coaches. Steve Hansen knows his men can rely on the Haka to get them fired up immediately before kick-off. Unfair advantage? Cian Healy is certainly not a fan of the war dance.

The All Blacks are out on the pitch… Muted reception as you would expect. The PA system is blasting out the heart beat effect again today. Here come the Ireland team, to an absolutely massive cheer. Here we go! Paul O’Connell looks ready for this. Great atmosphere here!

Last chance for predictions. What’s the consensus out there? Can Ireland run them close. The Aviva Stadium crowd seems to be well up for this game.

The President is out meeting the players. Really pleased to say that the stadium is almost totally full at this stage. No latecomers for this game, and why would there be? Real sense that anything could happen here in Dublin. Form and history say there is little chance of an Irish win, but sport is about more than those two factors.

Rousing renditions of both Irish anthems there. And now the All Blacks are setting up for their famous Haka…

Rousing renditions of both Irish anthems there. And now the All Blacks are setting up for their famous Haka…

The All Blacks went for their ‘normal’ Ka Mate Ka Mate on this occasion. Great reaction again from the crowd. It’s buzzing here for the first time in a while. And Aaron Cruden gets us underway…

1 minute - Good start from Ireland, with Rob Kearney and several others making aggressive carries. New Zealand turn it over on half way, showing their breakdown threat but then Hansen’s men are done for holding on. Sexton kicks the penalty down the left-hand touchline and Ireland are in possession about 35 metres out.

Ireland 7-0 New Zealand!!

5 minutes - Conor Murray gets Ireland off to an unbelievable start!! Brilliant build up play with strong carries by Healy, O’Mahony and several others, before the scrum-half takes responsibility and boshes over from close-range. Sexton converts from out to the right. Ireland so powerful and aggressive early on here!

6 minutes - A little over excitement there perhaps as Ireland try to run it out of their own 22, a misplaced pass from O’Driscoll ends up in touch. First chance for New Zealand to build something…

9 minutes - Wonderful defence from Ireland as they turn the All Blacks over on their own try-line, then Murray sends a beautiful box-kick up the right. Magnificent start from Joe Schmidt’s side, this is Ireland at their best. The Aviva Stadium is absolutely rocking.


11 minutes – Rory Best is over for our second of the day. Sean O’Brien made the initial burst through the defence, Murray helped to keep the move going and then the Ulster hooker beat his man out on the right. This is quite incredible.

Ireland 14-0 New Zealand. Sexton converts and Ireland are in dreamland. The All Blacks look shocked.

15 minutes – More strong defence from Schmidt’s fired up men. Ireland are getting off the line so aggressively, competing for everything. New Zealand are rocked by this start and we’ve barely had time to draw breath.

Here’s what reader Aidan Lennon makes of Ireland’s superb opening 15 minutes

What a start for Ireland! Movement, power and ball skills for the second try were incredible.

Unfortunately, Rory Best is being taken off, with what looks like a bad shoulder injury. Real shame as he has been excellent so far. Sean Cronin on, and he hits his man first time at the line-out.

17 minutes - Ireland have just destroyed New Zealand at the maul, an area where the Wallabies did damage to us last weekend. We look like a totally different team. Every player contributing to this and there is such a sense of belief in the players’ body language.


18 minutes – Israel Dagg knocks on as the All Blacks attack just outside the Ireland 22 and Rob Kearney is onto it in a flash. He streaks away down the left-hand touchline and goes all the way to score again. Unbelievable scenes here!

Ireland 19-0 New Zealand. No that’s not a typo. Sexton missed the conversion, hitting the post but Ireland are utterly in control here.

22 minutes – New Zealand trying their best to create something but Ireland’s defence is forcing error after error from the best team in the world. Devin Toner unloads a tackle on Faumuina and it’s another knock-on. Schmidt has his men fired up beyond belief here. So physical, what Paul O’Connell might call ‘manic aggression’. The All Blacks clearly weren’t expecting this!

This was the moment Rory Best touched down for out second try, before he was forced off injured.

©INPHO/James Crombie


26 minutes – That’s more of the play that has made the All Blacks number one in the world. Ben Smith slices through in midfield and the Kiwis hold their nerve as Cruden slips a clever kick in behind Ireland’s defence for Julian Savea to collect and bounce his way over. Cruden converts and it’s now Ireland 19-7 New Zealand.

28 minutes – Back come Ireland, after a perfect up and under by Sexton. Bowe competes in the air and wins possession back. An excellent carry from Paul O’Connell in there too. Israel Dagg clears it away after a turnover, but Ireland are 15 metres out with a line-out on the left…

31 minutes – Sustained pressure on the All Blacks try-line ends with a scrum awarded to Ireland as the team going forward before a scrappy ruck. Cian Healy steam-rolled Richie McCaw in the process of that passage, absolutely floored the legendary openside and ran directly over him. Ireland are bringing an incredible level of abrasiveness to everything they do.

32 minutes – Penalty for Ireland with Wyatt Crockett pinged for pulling the scrum down. Mike Ross on top of the set-piece and he’s also contributing some wonderful carries and tackles. Every single Irish player doing well. Sexton lines it up…

Ireland 22-7 New Zealand. He slots it from 15 metres in from the left-hand side and 22 metres out.

This man is having an incredible game so far. Who do you think the outstanding Irish men have been? Superb team performance to be fair…

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

36 minutes – Aaron Cruden misses touch with a penalty kick from the centre of the pitch and after Kearney clears, Ireland win a scrum turnover from a brilliantly held-up tackle by D’Arcy and Heaslip. That’s the famous choke tackle at its best, always part of Ireland’s greatest performances.

39 minutes – One more attack here for Ireland before the break after O’Driscoll wins the ball in the air, soaring above the All Blacks to reclaim possession. Ireland operating a little tighter before Sexton puts width on it. D’Arcy carrying ferociously…

HALF TIME – Ireland 22- 7 New Zealand

Wow, have never seen anything like this from an Irish side against New Zealand. We dominated that half, bullied the Kiwis in nearly every collision and scored three excellent tries. It’s been pretty much error-free from Ireland so far. The aggression in defence has been key and Ireland have managed to turn the All Blacks over on numerous occasions. Let us know what you think of the game so far…

Inside at Lansdowne Road, there is an Aviva Fan-zone taking place with David Wallace and Nick Williams discussing the game. You can check it out here:

Eimear Smith recognises how special a performance that was in the first 40 minutes…

Got the goosebumps watching that performance! C’mon Ireland.

It’s not over yet, far from it but Ireland are in a wonderful position. Who foresaw this?

The teams are back on the pitch and we’re ready for another 40 minutes of that magic. Ireland need to start well in this second half, pick up where they left off and play the game in the All Blacks’ half. Sounds simple right? By the way, the Aviva Stadium is rocking for the first time in a while. Hard not to get excited by what we’ve seen so far. Sexton restarts…

41 minutes – There’s an excellent turnover penalty from Sean O’Brien to get things going again. Sexton punts it down the left into touch and we have a line-out just inside the All Blacks half. Cronin hits his man and Ireland play off the top. Nigel Owens brings a halt to play though after a slight forward pass. The All Blacks have brought Dane Coles on at hooker in place of Andrew Hore.

45 minutes – Another knock-on from the All Blacks there. So many uncharacteristic errors from Hansen’s men so far, but they’re being taken out of their comfort zone by Ireland’s line speed. Gordon D’Arcy is having a brilliant game, getting in the All Blacks faces and defending smartly. Alongside him, BOD is showing plenty of glimpses of his world-class ability.

Ireland conceded a free-kick at the scrum though, and the All Blacks are in possession, electing for another scrum.

47 minutes – Aaron Cruden threatens the Ireland line several times, before Nonu’s miss pass is intercepted by Tommy Bowe. Ireland recycle and Peter O’Mahony boots it clear. More excellent defence from Ireland. Lots of desire and the inside men are tracking across the pitch really well. The All Blacks win a penalty again and kick it into the left-hand corner.

Dev Toner makes a spectacular steal in the air from Coles’ throw, but Owens gives a scrum to the visitors when the ball is held up.

50 minutes – We’re going to the TMO for a decision on a possible try for the All Blacks. Looks like Dagg may have forced his way over…


50 minutes – It’s ruled out by the TMO, and Ireland survive that scare. Scrum 5 metres out for the All Blacks though. That passage of play was more like we expected from Hansen’s men, good handling, running onto the ball with pace and quick rucks. Ireland back on defensive duties now…

53 minutes – Penalty for New Zealand there after it looked like Ireland had down enough to work their way out of the 22. Ma’a Nonu’s unsympathetic pass to Dagg was picked off by Conor Murray but Nigel Owens sees something wrong with that…

Ireland 22-10 New Zealand. Cruden knocks over the easy penalty from just underneath the sticks. Ryan Crotty is on for Israel Dagg now.

53 minutes - Brian O’Driscoll is heading off the pitch too, with Luke Fitzgerald on in his place. Looks like BOD is only off temporarily though. Fingers crossed.

55 minutes – Ireland a little bit loose there, knocking the ball on twice in a row before Sean O’Brien fails to release the tackled player and Owens gives the All Blacks a penalty around 45 metres out, straight in front. Cruden is going to have an effort at goal. Ireland need to get their accuracy back again. The effort is still there, but there are errors slipping in.

57 minutes – Really poor strike from Cruden though, who scuffs it off to the left. Kevin McLaughlin is on for Peter O’Mahony now.

A typical scene in this game so far… Ireland’s desire has been worn on their sleeves.

©INPHO/James Crombie

58 minutes – Yet another magnificent turnover on the deck, winning a penalty this time. Richie McCaw has had little effect on this game so far, mainly down to Ireland’s sheer aggression. Ireland set up to play from a line-out on the right, 45 metres out from the All Blacks line.

60 minutes - Another strong passage of play comes to an end as Jamie Heaslip knocks on. Sad images pop up on the big screen here of Brian O’Driscoll with his head in his hands on the bench. The great man won’t be reappearing. It must be sickening to be forced to watch on, but there is no doubt that his teammates want to do something special for him here.

62 minutes – The All Blacks attempt to build something in attack again, before Cruden grubbers a diagnol kick low in behind Ireland’s defence. Rob Kearney leaps to gather it, and Luatua tackles him in the air. Penalty Ireland! Kearney is pumped up, screaming encouragement to his teammates. Less than 20 minutes left…


65 minutes - Ben Franks scores just minutes after entering the fray. Barges his way over from close range following an excellent passage of play by his teammates. Some slick handling by Read in there, as well as dancing footwork from Nonu. Cruden converts and it is well and truly game on here.

Ireland 22-17 New Zealand.

Mike McCarthy and Declan Fitzpatrick are on for Toner and Ross. Ireland kick off, the All Blacks clear and we have a line-out 30 metres out on the left. Calm heads needed now as the Kiwis come back into it..

68 minutes – The All Blacks are stepping it up a gear now. Beaudan Barrett is on the pitch to add a creative spark and Ben Smith nearly cuts through again. Barrett himself breaks the line are Ireland are looking stretched here… Before a silly penalty from the All Blacks. Cruden in the side and Ireland hold out again!

Jack McGrath comes on for Cian Healy, who has been sublime today. World-class performance from the loosehead.

Gordon D’Arcy answering all his critics today. The Fields of Athenry is booming out now, spine-tingling stuff…

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

71 minutes – Scrum for Ireland in midfield. Conor Murray loops wonderfully off D’Arcy before grubbering through and forcing Barrett to carry the ball into touch. Line-out in the right0hand corner for Ireland now…

73 minutes - Penalty for Ireland! A brilliant maul is rumbling its way towards the All Blacks’ try-line before they decide to cut their losses and cynically pull it down. Sexton with the chance to make it an eight-point lead. He’s 14 metres in from the right-hand touchline, on the 22 metre line…

75 minutes – No, he’s missed it. Off to the right. This is unbearably tense as the All Blacks win their 22 drop off.

76 minutes – More heroic defence from Ireland, as they drive the All Blacks into touch. Ian Madigan is on for Sexton for the closing minutes. Ireland win their line-out and go back on the attack…

77 minutes – Ireland just looking to hold onto possession now, just inside their own half. The All Blacks defend desperately, looking to steal the ball. Murray kicks it away though and suddenly the Kiwis counter attack. But Ma’a Nonu knocks it on!! Then Murray kicks brilliantly into the right hand corner.

79 minutes - Cruden kicks it away and Ireland just have to run the clock down now! Just a minute left. They’re keeping it very tight…

79 minutes - Incredible noise from the crowd here!!

80 minutes - But the All Blacks win a penalty and they’re back on the attack in Ireland’s half. Massive defence needed….



80 minutes - Ryan Crotty has scored on the left…. And Aaron Cruden missed the conversion… BUT Owens says he can take it again as Ireland had started their charge down to early. This is insane..

80 minutes – Cruden gets it this time and the All Blacks have beaten Ireland. Incredible. I literally cannot believe what has happened here.

Shock here at the Aviva Stadium is the only word to sum up the feeling after those closing actions. The All Blacks just never think they’re beaten, they never gave up on it despite being totally outplayed by Ireland for the majority of this game. Sickening for the Irish players and management. The cruelest defeat they have suffered.

We can only imagine how the Irish players are feeling after letting that chance slip. Credit has to got to the All Blacks for somehow coming away with the win. A real demonstration of skill under pressure for Crotty’s winning try and they’ve now won all 14 of their games in 2013. Incredible, record-breaking achievement.

Let us know your thoughts on that game through all the normal routes. The All Blacks are just leaving the pitch, long after Ireland disappeared into the changing rooms. What will Joe Schmidt be saying to his men after that? How did you rate their performance? This felt like it was going to be the first ever win over the All Blacks, but they stole it at the death to break Irish hearts.

Thanks for joining us and stay tuned for plenty of reaction and analysis.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella