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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 5 December 2020


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Good afternoon and welcome along to our live coverage of Ireland’s second Test of this November series as Joe Schmidt’s side welcome New Zealand to the Aviva Stadium.

A fortnight ago, there was a sense of foreboding heading into the first meeting of these two sides in Chicago but now, incredibly, Ireland go into today’s return fixture harbouring genuine hopes of a historic double over the All Blacks.

Ireland will be determined to prove that the memorable 40-29 victory at Soldier Field was no fluke but they will need to produce another flawless performance to record back-to-back victories over the world champions.

Steve Hansen’s side are still hurting from that result and the visitors have spoken in the build-up about righting the wrongs in Dublin.

The excitement has been building all week and with so much at stake for both sides, this one has all the ingredients to be a Saturday night thriller under the lights.

Ryan Bailey here to guide you through every kick of the ball from 5.30pm while Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell are in position at the Aviva Stadium as we bring you comprehensive coverage throughout the evening.

The calm before the storm.

A view of the Aviva Stadium ahead of the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A view of the Irish dressing room ahead of the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A view of the Irish dressing room ahead of the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Darkness is descending on the capital and the atmosphere is building on Lansdowne Road. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game.

If you want to join in, tweet us: @rugby_ie and @The42_ie, e-mail or post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Before we go any further, let us remind ourselves of the starting XVs that were named on Thursday.


For the hosts, there is just one change to the side which started on that historic night in Chicago as Sean O’Brien gets the nod at openside in the absence of Jordi Murphy. Josh van der Flier has to settle for a place on the bench.

15. Rob Kearney
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Jared Payne
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Simon Zebo
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best (capt)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Devin Toner
6. CJ Stander
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip


16. Sean Cronin
17. Cian Healy
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Iain Henderson
20. Josh van der Flier
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Paddy Jackson
23. Garry Ringrose

New Zealand:

Steve Hansen has been able to restore his first-choice second row pairing of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock for this return game. There are five changes in personnel in total from Chicago.

15. Ben Smith
14. Israel Dagg
13. Malakai Fekitoa
12. Anton Lienert-Brown
11. Julian Savea
10. Beauden Barrett
9. Aaron Smith

1. Joe Moody
2. Dane Coles
3. Owen Franks
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Sam Whitelock
6. Liam Squire
7. Sam Cane
8. Kieran Read (capt)


16. Codie Taylor
17. Wyatt Crockett
18. Charlie Faumuina
19. Scott Barrett
20. Ardie Savea
21. T.J. Perenara
22. Aaron Cruden
23. Waisake Naholo

The teams are in the house.

Joe Schmidt arrives for the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Jonathan Sexton arrives for the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland players in the changing room before the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Kieran Read Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Sam Whitelock Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

How are the nerves? We’re don’t need anything more to gear us up for this one, but RTÉ have produced this excellent promo.

As an aside, tonight’s game is live on RTÉ2 and Sky Sports 2.

Source: RTÉ Sport/YouTube

As the teams go through their final preparations, here are some of our pre-match offerings from both camps:


A view of the team huddle Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

New Zealand:

Steve Hansen Source: James Crombie/INPHO


Here come the teams, greeted by an electric atmosphere at a packed Aviva Stadium.

We’ll have the anthems followed by the Haka before the action gets underway.

Pure emotion from both sets of players during the anthems. A passionate rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann before Ireland’s Call reverberates around a sold-out Aviva Stadium.

Now time for the Haka…

Ireland face the Haka in their tracksuits, which isn’t a bad idea in this weather — although conditions are perfect under the lights in Dublin.

All the talking is over. All the mind games, the talk of favourites, revenge and everything else in between. It’s now down to the next 80 minutes. Strap yourself in, this is Ireland v New Zealand part II.

Flag 2Mins

KICK-OFF: Beauden Barrett gets us underway and Sean O’Brien looks to have shipped a heavy knock on the head there. He’s down receiving treatment as we play on.


O’Brien back on his feet and straight into the action as Ireland forced to defend in these early exchanges. The All Blacks have started very purposefully.


TRY! Ireland 0-7 New Zealand (Malakai Fekitoa)

What a start from the All Blacks. Relentless pressure on the Irish line is eventually rewarded as Barrett kicks cross-field for Malakai Fekitoa to gather, evade the tackle of Conor Murray and apply the finish. Barrett adds the extras from the left wing.


Not the start Ireland wanted but they just need to settle down here and find their feet.


So close!

Nearly the instant reply as Heaslip powers through the tackle and offloads for the supporting O’Brien. The flanker charges towards the line but is hauled down just short by Barrett and is eventually held up.

Ireland’s scrum five metres out.


Solid first set-piece from Ireland as Heaslip picks up from the base and charges over Kieran Read. CJ Stander is on his shoulder but again the All Blacks have enough numbers in defence to thwart Ireland.

But we’re going back for an earlier penalty, with the visitors pinged for being offside. Sexton is calling for the kicking tee.


Penalty! Ireland 3-7 New Zealand (Sexton)

Sexton makes no mistake and gets Ireland on the board. From the restart, O’Brien gathers and Ireland win the penalty just before halfway.


Referee Jaco Piper has asked to go upstairs to the TMO to have a second look at this big tackle on Robbie Henshaw from Sam Cane. The officials come to the conclusion that it’s only a penalty and no further punishment.

But Henshaw is in serious trouble and his game looks to be over. Garry Ringrose has the tracksuit top off and is ready to enter the fray.


Henshaw receives a big ovation as he’s carted off — and Ireland aren’t happy and understandably so. Accidental or not, that was a dangerous tackle from Cane.


As the action resumes, Garry Ringrose slots into the outside centre position with Jared Payne now operating at 12. A huge 70 minutes ahead for the Leinster man.

Flag 15Mins

TRY! Ireland 3-14 New Zealand (Barrett)

Barrett scythes through the Ireland defence and storms clear but we’re going upstairs to have a look at the grounding as Sexton got back. Replays suggest he may not have dotted that down but the TMO says there’s clear evidence and the try is awarded.


That was a very suspect call from the TMO, as boos ring around the Aviva Stadium. It certainly looked like Sexton got his arm underneath the ball but the officials still came to the conclusion that Barrett grounded it.

grounding Source: RTE

grounding1 Source: RTE


Aaron Smith is sent to the sin-bin

It’s all happening.

Moments after Rory Best had a word in Jaco Peyper’s ear, he sends Aaron Smith to the bin for an infringement at the breakdown.

Meanwhile, and perhaps more significantly for Ireland, Johnny Sexton has gone straight down the tunnel and Paddy Jackson is on in his place.


Ireland applying the pressure with New Zealand a man down. Into the tenth phase and the hosts are just yards from the line.

The forwards are making the hard yards with Heaslip and Stander making some big carries but both sets of players are off their feet at the ruck and we’ll restart with an Irish scrum.

Stander, meanwhile, has also gone down the tunnel for a Head Injury Assessment and is replaced by Josh van der Flier.


Can Ireland make this pressure count? They have the advantage and throw it out wide where Jared Payne is stopped in his tracks. We go back to the far side for another penalty after Liam Squire was penalised for being offside.

With Sexton off the field, Jackson has assumed the kicking duties and this will be his first attempt at goal.


Penalty! Ireland 6-14 New Zealand (Jackson)

And he slots it over to keep Ireland in touch.


An absorbing 25 minutes of rugby.

Liam Squire and Jamie Heaslip Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Malakai Fekitoa celebrates after scoring a try Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


Brilliant work from O’Brien at the breakdown again as he turns it over and Ireland win the penalty. Joe Schmidt’s men are dominating in that area with the All Blacks conceding penalty after penalty.


Another blow for Ireland as CJ Stander fails his HIA and he, like Sexton and Henshaw, are out of the game.


A big sigh of relief!

Jackson appears to drop the ball in his own 22 under pressure from Barrett and the out-half has the mere formality of running it under the posts for his second try of the game.

However, replays show he knocked the ball out of his opposite number’s hands and we go back for the scrum. Phew! Risky from Ireland but it remains 6-14.


Superb defence from Ireland as they stand firm in the face of wave after wave of All Black attack. O’Brien putting in a serious shift but it’s Payne, van der Flier and Best who execute the perfect choke tackle to force the turnover on that occasion.


Jackson sends the penalty down the touchline and Best finds Toner under incredible pressure from Retallick.

With quick ball, Murray spreads it wide to Trimble, who attempts the grubber through for Zebo. The Munster man is quickly up but Israel Dagg does well to drop quickly on the ball and clear the initial danger.

From the next phase of ball, Retallick puts in another HUGE hit and Ireland concede the penalty at the breakdown.


Half-time! Ireland 6-14 New Zealand 

An incredibly physical 40 minutes of rugby sees New Zealand go into the break leading by eight. Ireland’s set-piece wasn’t quite sharp enough and the All Blacks’ defence has been able to deal with whatever Schmidt’s side have thrown at them.

Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip, in particular, have put in superb shifts so far but Ireland are really up against it with Sexton, Henshaw and Stander all gone off injured during that first period.

On RTÉ, Eddie O’Sullivan says the intensity and physicality is off the charts but Ireland have done well to stay in the game.

Meanwhile, Sean Fitzpatrick on Sky Sports says New Zealand needed to start well and that they have done in the first period.

Is there any way back for Ireland in this second half? It will take a serious effort from Schmidt’s men from here but nobody gave them a chance in Chicago.

Just about set for the restart…COYBIG!

Flag 42Mins

Back underway: Jackson restarts and Ireland are on the front foot from the off.


Ireland chipping away as they go through the phases. Van der Flier with two lovely line breaks but New Zealand quickly shut the door.

Into the 18th phase before the All Blacks win the penalty. Fine work from Kieran Read on the floor.


Barrett finds touch with the penalty but it’s brilliant, relentless, pressure from Ireland and the crowd are on their feet. Ringrose, Jackson, Trimble and van der Flier all up quickly to squeeze the All Blacks and eventually forcing the error.


Ireland enjoying plenty of possession but they face a wall of black shirts.

Ringrose with a trademark drop of the shoulder and shimmy but Murray is then hit hard by Retallick.


The Fields of Athenry rings around the Aviva Stadium for the first time today. Ireland bashing their way up the left wing but to no avail and New Zealand force the turnover.

All Black scrum 10 metres from their own line.


Yellow card!

Another high tackle and Fekitoa is deservedly sent to the bin.

It all came from a poor box kick from Smith. Ireland looked to capitalise and spread it wide via van der Flier and Best to Zebo, who was caught high by the swinging arm of Fekitoa.

Steve Hansen has made a change in his front row with Joe Moody making way for Wyatt Crockett.


Ireland need to make this numerical advantage count. They continue to knock on the door.

Jackson looks to change the angle of attack, with a towering cross-field kick towards Trimble. The Ulster man does brilliantly to field it but he runs out of space and is bundled into touch.

But we’re going back across to the left touchline for another Irish penalty.


Ireland get the push on from the lineout but New Zealand aren’t budging and possession changes hands again.


Clever stuff from New Zealand. Read and Coles combine for a short lineout and the hooker shows his pace by darting clear. He has support on his shoulder but O’Brien does trojan work to get back and thwart the danger.


The pace of this game is something else. Best carries and O’Brien charges clear. From that platform, Zebo’s kick is fumbled by Smith and Kearney very nearly pounces but there are enough All Black bodies back there to deny the fullback.

Flag 59Mins

Penalty! Ireland 9-14 New Zealand (Jackson)

New Zealand look to run from deep but are pinged for holding on. Jackson has the chance to reduce the deficit and that he does with another well-struck kick.

Schmidt makes a couple of changes up front with Healy and Henderson on for McGrath and Ryan. Meanwhile, Aaron Cruden is on.


And breath!

First time New Zealand have stretched the Irish defence since the half-time interval and Dagg finds space on the right but Lienert-Brown can’t gather the offload with the line at his mercy.

15 minutes of his pulsating Test match remaining. It’s a five-point game.

Flag 67Mins

TRY! Ireland 9-21 New Zealand (Fekitoa)

Oh that’s so good from the All Blacks. Their offloading game at its very best as they cut through the Irish defence with Barrett and TJ Perenara involved before Fekitoa goes over for his second of the day.

There’s a hint of a forward pass but the referee doesn’t go upstairs, despite protestations from Best. The crowd aren’t happy again.


Talk about a sucker punch. The atmosphere has just been sucked out of the Aviva Stadium and now Ireland face an uphill task with just 12 minutes remaining.

Schmidt has sent on Cronin and Bealham.


Ireland now need to score twice and they’ve just lost their shape a little since New Zealand’s third try. Van der Flier with another powerful run but it comes to nothing and Ireland have to start again.


Sean O'Brien reacts Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Devin Toner with Kieran Read Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Garry Ringrose with Anton Lienert-Brown Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


Brilliant from JVDF, who has made a big impact since replacing CJ Stander. The Leinster flanker makes another line break but nobody is on his shoulder and he has to go into contact.

Heaslip keeps the move alive but when it comes out to Cronin, the replacement hooker knocks on and Ireland’s chance is gone.

Zebo looks to have picked up a knock and he’s hobbling off with Kieran Marmion on in his place. That’s all of Ireland’s replacements used now.


Ireland still pushing as they exert more pressure. Ringrose with the initial burst which brings the home side inside the New Zealand 22 — but just at the final hurdle it breaks down as Heaslip loses the ball in the tackle. Frustration.


Just about sums up Ireland’s day. So close, yet so far.

Payne loses the ball as he looks to latch onto Jackson’s delightful chip.

A brave effort from Ireland in an immensely physical Test match but they were unable to convert their larger periods of possession into points and were ultimately left frustrated.

Jack McGrath on the attack Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Losing Robbie Henshaw, Johnny Sexton and CJ Stander to injury inside the opening 22 minutes meant this was always going to be an uphill battle.

Jaco Peyper, meanwhile, is unlikely to be welcome back on Irish soil for some time.

New Zealand earned two yellow cards for Aaron Smith and Malakai Fekitoa, but could easily have had at least another one – a blatant penalty under their own posts in the first half denying Ireland a genuine try-scoring chance.

The All Blacks’ discipline throughout the game – a penalty count of 14 against Ireland’s four – was atrocious.

While the refereeing – and the TMOing – will be a major talking point in the aftermath of what was a genuine battle in the Aviva Stadium, Ireland’s inability to create those gilt-edged try-scoring chances was even more costly.

That’s all from me this evening, but we’ll have plenty more reaction from the Aviva Stadium on the site. Until next time, goodbye!

About the author:

Ryan Bailey