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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 18 December, 2018
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It’s finally here.

The champions of the northern hemisphere versus the champions of the southern hemisphere, the number two in the world versus the number one in the world. Never has there been a bigger meeting of Ireland and the All Blacks, never has a Test match between the two carried as much significance.

Chicago broke the seal but two years on, Joe Schmidt’s Ireland — the Grand Slam winners — bid to make more history this evening with their first ever home win over the All Blacks at a sold-out Aviva Stadium.

There has been agonising heartbreak here before, not least in 2013 when Ryan Crotty’s late try plundered victory for the back-to-back world champions, but Steve Hansen’s side have shown vulnerabilities in defeat this season.

Having scaled new heights in recent seasons under Schmidt, Ireland — despite the loss of Robbie Henshaw, Sean O’Brien, Conor Murray and Dan Leavy through injury — have never been as equipped to challenge the All Blacks’ status as the world’s best.

But, the All Blacks arrive in Dublin fully locked and loaded and in no mood to suffer their first defeat in Europe in six years. Ireland will need to produce their very best if they are to harbour any hopes of a landmark win.

Victory tonight would not be enough to see Ireland overtake their visitors in the world rankings, but with subplots abound less than 12 months out from the World Cup, this is a Test match of seismic proportions.

The anticipation and excitement has been building all week, as the top two teams in the world go head-to-head under Saturday night lights in Dublin.

It’ll be full-on, fascinating and frenetic. 

Good evening and welcome along to our live minute-by-minute coverage of this much-anticipated Test match. Ryan Bailey here to guide you through all the action as it happens, while Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell are also part of The42‘s team at the Avvia Stadium. 

A view of the match programme and Ireland jersey in the Ireland dressing room ahead of the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

How are the nerves? A little under two hours until kick-off at Lansdowne Road and the atmosphere has been building in the capital all afternoon. It goes without saying that tickets for this one have been like gold dust for months, and a febrile home crowd will hope to inspire Ireland to a famous win.

We’ll take a check on the teams shortly, but before then get your predictions in to us.

Which way do you see this one going?


Poll Results:





TEAM NEWS: Ireland were forced into a late change yesterday when Dan Leavy failed a late fitness test, with Josh van der Flier promoted to the number seven jersey.

Joe Schmidt has made four changes in personnel from last week’s win over Argentina, with Rob Kearney and Garry Ringrose returning from injury and Devin Toner reinstated to the second row.

Bundee Aki arrives Bundee Aki arrives at the Aviva Stadium a little earlier. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Kiwi’s selection was largely as expected as Kearney’s experience and calm under the high ball sees him replace Jordan Larmour at fullback, while Ringrose and Bundee Aki renew their midfield partnership in Robbie Henshaw’s absence.

The Leinster centre is one of four players ruled out of the Test through injury, alongside Conor Murray, Sean O’Brien and Leavy. 

Johnny Sexton and Kieran Marmion continue in the half-back positions, while up front captain Rory Best packs down alongside Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong. Iain Henderson drops out, as James Ryan partners Leinster team-mate Toner in the second row.

Injuries to O’Brien and Leavy have given Van der Flier his opportunity at openside in the back row alongside Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander. 

Ireland:

15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Josh van der Flier
8. CJ Stander

Replacements:

16. Sean Cronin
17. Jack McGrath
18. Andrew Porter
19. Iain Henderson
20. Jordi Murphy
21. Luke McGrath
22. Joey Carbery
23. Jordan Larmour.

TEAM NEWS: As for the All Blacks, Steve Hansen has made one enforced change to the team that edged past England last week, with Sonny Bill Williams ruled out through injury.

Steve Hansen arrives All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

His place is taken by Ryan Crotty — scorer of the match-winning try here in 2013 — in New Zealand’s midfield, as the centre pairs up with his Crusaders team-mate Jack Goodhue.

There are eight starters from the Kiwi side that won in Dublin two years ago, namely Ben Smith,Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Liam Squire and captain Kieran Read. 

New Zealand:

15. Damian McKenzie
14. Ben Smith
13. Jack Goodhue
12. Ryan Crotty
11. Rieko Ioane
10. Beauden Barrett
9. Aaron Smith

8. Kieran Read (captain)
7. Ardie Savea
6. Liam Squire
5. Samuel Whitelock
4. Brodie Retallick
3. Owen Franks
2. Codie Taylor
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe

Replacements:

16. Dane Coles
17. Ofa Tuungafasi
18. Nepo Laulala
19. Scott Barrett
20. Matt Todd
21. TJ Perenara
22. Richie Mo’unga
23. Anton Lienert-Brown.

An incredible shot from a little earlier as Ireland arrived at the Aviva Stadium.

The Ireland team arrive Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Just 45 minutes until kick-off now, so to whet your appetite further here are some of our pre-match offerings:

Jonathan Sexton before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Kieran Read, Wayne Barnes and Rory Best during the coin toss Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Garry Ringrose before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

While this Test is the marquee fixture of the November schedule, it has been another busy day of international rugby. Here are the scores from today’s other games:

It’s fascinating to watch the differing style of the two head coaches during the warm-ups. Joe Schmidt, in tracksuit, is in the thick of Ireland’s preparations, rarely standing still for a minute while Steve Hansen stands motionless, watching the opposition go through their paces. 

Anyway, the teams have gone back into the changing rooms and we’re minutes away from their arrival onto the pitch for the anthems and the Haka. All of the talking is very nearly over.

Incredible atmosphere inside the Aviva as the teams — led by Rory Best and Kieran Read — walk out side-by-side to a huge roar and a firework display. Michael D. Higgins will be introduced to the players, and then we’ll have the anthems. How are the nerves?

TJ Perenara leads the Haka, as Ireland — shoulder to shoulder — stand motionless and expressionless in their half. Incredible. Iconic. Here we go!

1Mins

1 mins – Great start by Devin Toner as he soars to claim the kick-off, before Rob Kearney snaffles a loose ball in the Ireland half. 

2Mins

2 mins — The All Blacks testing Ireland early doors with their kicking game and Barrett then angles a perfectly-weighted kick into the space in behind the green shirts, with Rob Kearney forced to come over and slide into touch. 

3Mins

3 mins — Clean ball for the All Blacks from the lineout but Ireland work tirelessly in defence, repelling the visitors with a huge defensive set before Josh van der Flier forces the turnover. A massive roar from the crowd. Brilliant work from the flanker. 

6Mins

6 mins – The physicality is every bit as savage as anticipated, with Healy, Stander and Van der Flier all putting their battles on the line for the cause. A breathless start at the Aviva. 

7Mins

7 mins — The All Blacks are so fast off the line, trying to smoother Ireland when the hosts are in possession, but the pack are already getting through mountains of work. Schmidt’s side eventually win a penalty and Sexton launches it down the touchline. 

8Mins

9 mins – Best finds O’Mahony at the back and Ireland have quality ball. The hosts show huge patience through a multi-phase passage of play, and Wayne Barnes brings it back for a penalty in front of the posts. Sexton calls for the tee.

10Mins

10 mins — Penalty! Ireland 3-0 New Zealand

Sexton makes no mistake from in front of the posts and Ireland lead. 

13Mins

13 mins – My word, the physicality is already through the roof. Ireland getting through Trojan work as they repel everything New Zealand are throwing at them, typified by Devin Toner and James Ryan’s thunderous hit on Brodie Retallick. The ball spilled loose and the forwards showed brilliant hands to move it wide quickly, before Ireland win the penalty. Immense. The Fields reverberates around the Aviva.

15Mins

15 mins — Ireland’s turn to put the All Blacks under pressure, as JVDF latches onto Ringrose’s offload and the hosts have front foot ball, but Best looses it in contact on this near side. The visitors turn defence into attack and this is dangerous, with Stockdale left isolated as he retreats back and Kearney is pinged for being off his feet. Barrett is going to have a shot at goal. 

16Mins

16 mins — Ireland 3-3 New Zealand

Barrett strikes it as sweet as you like, the out-half’s first attempt from the tee arrowing between the posts. We’re level at the Aviva. 

21Mins

21 mins – Two poor exits for Ireland now as Stockdale fails to gather Marmion’s box kick cleanly as he knocks it into touch. Read opts for the game’s first scrum on this near touchline, but again Ireland stand firm in defence. Squire then tackles Stander around the neck and Sexton launches one into New Zealand territory. 

24Mins

24 mins — The crowd want Barnes to brandish yellow for that high tackle and then again when Whitelock cynically slaps Best’s pass down as he lay on the ground. The All Black lock should have been sent to the bin there. 

25Mins

25 mins – Sexton finds touch and when Best hits Toner on the five, Ireland set the maul rolling. They are making yards and then barrel over, but Barnes says it’s held up and we’re going back for a scrum. 

27Mins

26 mins – Another huge shove from the pack, and with a penalty advantage, Sexton delicately chips over the top for Kearney and Stockdale. Goodhue fails to deal with it and when it comes back to the Ireland fullback he appears to get it down but we’re going upstairs…

26Mins

26 mins — No try! It appeared Kearney got it down but the final replay angle shows the fullback knocked it on in the act of grounding and we’re going back for the penalty. So, so close.

26Mins

27 mins — Penalty! Ireland 6-3 New Zealand

Ireland are back in front as Sexton knocks over the penalty. The All Blacks lucky to escape further punishment there, but Barnes keeps his cards in his pocket. 

29Mins

29 mins — Drop goal! Ireland 6-6 New Zealand 

End-to-end stuff. And Barrett finds an instant response as he sends a drop goal sailing between the posts with Barnes’ arm already outstretched. 

30Mins

30 mins — Another sloppy error from Best there as he didn’t look before throwing a pass backwards and Aki is forced to scramble back. Ireland lose the attacking momentum and then Savea completes a trademark turnover to ease the pressure on his side.

The All Blacks have been forced into a change, meanwhile, with Scott Barrett on for Liam Squire. 

35Mins

34 mins – Stockdale! Brilliant break from the Ulster winger as he gathers Smith’s box kick and then surges through the middle. The hosts are on the front foot as Furlong picks up the mantle, before Stockdale carries again on this left side. Ireland’s work-rate is through the roof. What a Test match!

35Mins

35 mins – The Irish scrum obliterates the All Blacks at the set-piece and with a penalty advantage coming, Stander controls at the back before Sexton looks cross-field for Stockdale. Nothing comes of it and then Sexton turns down a shot at goal. He drills it into the corner — Ireland are going for it!

37Mins

37 mins – It’s a bit scrappy but Ireland retain possession and they hammer around the fringes, with big carries from Healy and Ryan five metres out. Barnes penalises the All Blacks again, with Whitelock clearly off his feet and slowing the ball down. Surely that’s a yellow card!?

“Just making it clear it’s too many penalties, the next man goes to the bin,” the English referee tells Kieran Read.

38Mins

38 mins — Penalty! Ireland 9-6 New Zealand 

Sexton opts to take the points and he drills his third penalty between the posts. Ireland are putting New Zealand under relentless pressure on both sides of the ball. Incredible stuff. 

Flag 41Mins

Half-time! Ireland 9-6 New Zealand 

Well, it’s living up to its billing anyway. A truly absorbing and breathtaking half of rugby as Ireland have thrown everything at the All Blacks, playing with a relentless work-rate on both sides of the ball. 

They lead thanks to three Johnny Sexton penalties but for all of Ireland’s possession and territory [63% and 62%], they’re just three points ahead of the back-to-back world champions.

Wayne Barnes has let a string of penalties go unpunished, with the All Blacks conceding nine to Ireland’s two. 

We’re off to catch our breath! 

42Mins

Ireland have dominated in pretty much every facet so far. Can they maintain this level of performance and topple the All Blacks?

James Ryan with Kieran Read and Aaron Smith Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Peter O'Mahony in the line-out Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Rob Kearney scores a try that was later disallowed after going to the TMO Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

43Mins

Eddie O’Sullivan on the RTÉ panel: ”They’re drowning out there. If we keep this up, they will crack.”

An enthralling arm-wrestle.

41Mins

The All Blacks are back out on the pitch, closely followed by Rory Best and Ireland. Here we go again. Strap yourself in!

41Mins

41 mins — Bit of a sloppy start from both sides. Ireland maintain their superiority at the scrum but after another knock-on — this time O’Mahony is the guilty party after a loose pass — will need to get a big defensive shove on here. 

42Mins

43 mins — Oh my word, Jacob Stockdale you lucky boy. The Ulster winger controls it beautifully but then tries to deftly kick it over the top but is blocked down by Kieran Read, only for the All Blacks skipper to fumble as he looked to gather and streak clear. A big let-off for Ireland. Deep breaths. 

44Mins

45 mins – Ireland have the scrum but loose possession around the back as Barrett somehow comes away with it and this is dangerous — but again the green shirts stand firm as Ringrose and Aki team up to hit Goodhue in midfield. Brilliant defensive effort. 

47Mins

47 mins – O’Mahony!! Textbook turnover from the Munster captain, doing heroic work on the ground to win the penalty for Ireland. That was very much needed. 

48Mins

48 mins — As a sign of Ireland’s dominance at the set-piece, Steve Hansen has changed his entire front row. Tuungafasi, Laulala and Coles are all on. 

Flag 49Mins

49 mins — TRY! Ireland 16-6 New Zealand (Stockdale)

Oh that’s superb! Stockdale executes the kick and chase this time, latching onto his own chip over the top and the Ulster winger has the power and dexterity to get it down. What a try, what a roar!

Sexton calms himself and nails the conversion for a 10-point lead. 

52Mins

51 mins – Ireland are throwing the kitchen sink at the All Blacks. Best smashes Retallick, forcing the second row to knock on in contact and Furlong is quickly on the loose ball. Ireland move it right, as Ringrose grubbers into space and then Earls and Kearney combine to force Barrett into touch. 

52Mins

53 mins – Cian Healy, having expended every last sinew for the cause, is replaced by Jack McGrath in the Ireland front row. On the restart, Ireland’s lineout is off the mark and the All Blacks steal it at the back to relieve the pressure on their line. 

55Mins

55 mins – Another titanic, energy-sapping passage of play. Utterly relentless and the All Blacks are on the ropes. Kearney wins a Marmion box-kick and Ireland hammer away on the five metre line. 

56Mins

55 mins – Kearney could be in trouble here. Sexton launches a skier towards the New Zealand 22 but Ioane gets there ahead of the Ireland fullback, who clatters into Ioane. 

“We always look at it, we’re not certain it’s a card, that’s why we’re not going card, okay,” Wayne Barnes tells Kieran Read.

Just a penalty, and Kearney is lucky to escape further punishment. 

57Mins

56 mins – Kieran Marmion has been excellent in defence again today and he does brilliantly to cover the danger and force an All Black fumble. Every moment feels like it’s a match-defining one. Exhausting stuff and we’re not even out there!

57Mins

57 mins – Questionable call from Barnes as he awards New Zealand a scrum just outside the Ireland 22 for a forward pass. TJ Perenara is on, by the way. 

57Mins

58 mins – Read pops it to Perenara at the base of the scrum, but the replacement scrum-half’s grubber ends up in Irish hands and then Marmion completes the clearance. That will be his last involvement, as Luke McGrath is introduced for the final 20 minutes. 

57Mins

You can’t take your eyes off it.

Rob Kearney breaks Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Rieko Ioane tackled by Keith Earls Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

61Mins

61 mins – The All Blacks are growing into it. Bundee Aki carries hard but the visitors steal it at the breakdown and then kick it forward, forcing Kearney to scramble back and dot down. Savea was charging after it. Phew. 

62Mins

61 mins – Peter O’Mahony!! A try-saving intervention from the flanker, as he somehow conjured a moment of sheer magic to snatch the ball away from Ben Smith, who had the line at his mercy. Truly heroic work from the Munster captain. 

63Mins

63 mins – Standing ovation for Devin Toner as he’s replaced by Iain Henderson. My word, this is remarkable. The work-rate from every single player in green is inspirational. 17 minutes to go. 

64Mins

63 mins – He’s at it again. O’Mahony gets over the ball, and wins the turnover five metres away from the Ireland line. Superhuman stuff from him but he has hurt himself in the process and is being replaced by Jordi Murphy. An exceptional performance from the Irish blindside. 

64Mins

64 mins – Furlong and Best are replaced by Porter and Cronin. The All Blacks are really probing now, and getting ever closer. The crowd on the edge of their seats. 

65Mins

65 mins – Ireland are really scrambling now. Barrett is absolutely lethal and cuts through after Lienert-Brown’s initial break, but his final offload falls into the grateful arms of Rob Kearney, before McGrath finds a brilliant clearing kick. And then Henderson steals the lineout!

65Mins

66 mins – Kearney — who has been outstanding — is the latest to be forced off and Jordan Larmour is on for Ireland. 

69Mins

69 mins — Penalty! Ireland 16-9 New Zealand

Sexton is very lucky to escape a yellow card for a high tackle and after a moment of deliberation, Read tells Barrett to have a shot at goal. The out-half sends it between the posts and it’s back to a one-score game. 11 minutes left on the clock. Seven points in it. 

70Mins

70 mins – This is truly enthralling and excruciating in equal measure. 

71Mins

71 mins – Ireland have a lineout on halfway on the far side but the All Blacks steal it. The visitors are pushing and probing but Stander does brilliantly to hold them up and Ireland win the scrum. Every tackle being greeted as if it’s a try now. 

71Mins

71 mins – Ringrose throws a lovely skip pass out left and Stockdale has space, as he kicks ahead. The Ulster winger appeared to have been tripped as he tracked it down, but Barnes isn’t interested. 

75Mins

74 mins – Six minutes to go, and Ireland show no sign of standing down. Sexton is on Smith in a flash and smashes him into touch, before celebrating with a punch of the air. The crowd respond in kind. 

76Mins

76 mins – Sexton receives a standing ovation as he hobbles off to be replaced by Carbery. See it home, Joey!

77Mins

77 mins – Stockdale fumbles a high kick forward and it’s a scrum New Zealand. They’re still 60 metres from the Ireland line. Three minutes to go. You could cut the tension with a knife. 

78Mins

78 mins – My nerves. The All Blacks probing, Ireland hitting every tackle with so much intensity. Two minutes left on that clock. 

78Mins

78 mins – Ireland have it back. A crucial take by Larmour under pressure. 

79Mins

79 mins – Here come the All Blacks. One minute left. This is it.

79Mins

80 mins – The clock is red, but the All Blacks are in the Ireland 22. 

80Mins

80 mins – This is agonising. Into the 16th phase, Ireland tackling for their lives. 

81Mins

Full-time! Ireland 16-9 New Zealand 

Ireland have done it!!!! Utterly immense. What a performance, what a team. 

The green shirts stand firm in defence one final time, putting their bodies on the line to eventually force the knock on and Wayne Barnes’ whistle is music to the ears of every single person inside the stadium.

A historic victory for Joe Schmidt’s men as they made it 11 straight wins at the Aviva Stadium. Peter O’Mahony named man of the match but every single Irish player was outstanding. 

81Mins

A piece of history! Ireland’s first win over the All Blacks on home soil.

Jacob Stockdale celebrates scoring their first try with Josh van der Flier Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

90Mins

Some post-match reaction from man of the match Peter O’Mahony:

“It’s taken a while, 100 or whatever years, but it’s a special group of boys. It’s an honour to play alongside them every time we take to the field, every time we get a chance. It’s special playing alongside some of my best friends.

“We knew we had to be relentless, they’re not number one in the world for the craic, they’re the best team in the world. We knew we had to play our best game of this squad’s tenure and it was well up there as one of the best.

“It was unreal playing alongside them, boys showing up everywhere.Tackles that probably shouldn’t have been made, plays that shouldn’t have been made but guys were fighting for each other, fighting for the cause. It was a good day.

“We’re building nicely, some nice confidence going into the next Six Nations. We’ve obviously got a big game next week against the States, so we’ll get recovered and get stuck in next week.

“It’s a big piece of history for us and one we wanted to tick off. And we’ve ticked it off now, so happy days.”

95Mins

Wow. What a night at the Aviva, and the scenes on the pitch and in the stands afterwards spoke volumes. Our match report is available here, and we’ll have much more reaction on The42 in due course. Until next week, goodbye!

Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best, Cian Healy, Peter O'Mahony and Devin Toner celebrate winning Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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