Incredible Ireland performance ends 111-year wait for win over All Blacks

At the 29th time of asking, Ireland have beaten the world champions.

Sean Farrell reports from Soldier Field, Chicago

Ireland 40

New Zealand 29

IRELAND ENDED A 111-year wait for their first win over New Zealand with a momentous performance against the back-to-back world champions in Chicago.

A thrilling nine-try contest was dominated from the off thanks to a magnificent Ireland performance. Joe Schmidt’s masterplan put his side 25 – 8 up at half-time. New Zealand fought back like the great side they are, but tries from Simon Zebo and Robbie Henshaw either side of the fightback capped an unforgettable day.

CJ Stander celebrates scoring their second try with Rory Best Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The All Blacks looked in ominous mood when a superb quick step from Waisake Naholo left Rob Kearney for dead. He fended off Simon Zebo’s challenge and attempted to offload. CJ Stander’s presence complicated matters, but he was unable to get a firm hand on the ball and Moala grounded the the opening try after the pill bounced off Kieran Read’s face.

It was typical of New Zealand to take a score on their only entry into the 22 and with so little possession to their name in the first quarter.

Joe Moody was sin-binned in the seventh minute for a a tip tackle on Robbie Henshaw and Ireland made hay. By the time Jordi Murphy and Ryan Crotty were forced off with seperate injuries in the 25th minute, Ireland had opened up a 10-point lead and were exceptionally good value for it too.

While there was an awful lot to like about the back-play patterns, it was the maul made the inroads, a 10th minute rumble to the left corner giving Jordi Murphy an inch with which to squeeze the ball onto the line.

Jordi Murphy celebrates their try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

On 17 minutes, Ireland forced their second try. Rob Kearney adorned a terrific return to form with a step to see off a defender and CJ Stander bullied his way through Jerome Kaino to score.

Moody returned from the sin-bin, but Ireland continued to stand firm against the vaunted All Blacks. They tested New Zealand’s defence on all sides. The attack had width, the kick chase was hungry and the ball-carriers powered through the point of contact.

A half of poor discipline for the All Blacks reached a nadir on the 35th minute when Conor Murray peered up from a ruck inside the opposition 22, realised nobody was home and skated in for Ireland’s third try to leave a 17-point, 25 – 8 advantage at half-time.

You can never count New Zealand down though, and Ireland clearly had that in mind went they passed up a kickable opportunity after the break to go after the Kiwi maul yet again. The gamble paid off as Sexton directed the attack back to the blindside where Simon Zebo had space to touch down.

30 – 8  down, New Zealand reached for their next gear. And in the space of five minutes they drastically cut the gap with tries from Ben Smith and TJ Perenara. Even Barrett’s kicking returned to perfection as he nailed a touchline conversion to make it 30 -22 with 25 minutes to go.

New Zealand and Ireland fans Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland were fading.

Sexton was receiving treatment before being replaced by 21-year-old New Zealand-born debutant Joey Carbery, leaving Conor Murray to kick a penalty. It did not deter a Kiwi side who were simmering to the boil and Scott Barrett wriggled through Ireland’s defensive line  and the replacement was fresh enough to stretch a finish over the line despite the efforts of Devin Toner. 33 – 29, a one score game.

This time Ireland refused to wilt. They said all week they needed to be perfect today and they were not far off it. Robbie Henshaw capped an absolute magnificent display in midfield with a try to seal the victory with four minutes to go.

Suddenly anything seems possible.

Conor Murray celebrates Robbie Henshaw's try Source: INPHO/Billy Stickland



Tries: J Murphy, CJ Stander, C Murray, S Zebo, R Henshaw.

Conversions: J Sexton (2/4) J Carbery (1/1)

Penalties: J Sexton (2/2), C Murray (1/1)

New Zealand

Tries: G Moala, B Smith, TJ Perenara, S Barrett

Conversions: B Barrett (3/4)

Penalties: B Barrett (1/1)

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15. Rob Kearney
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Jared Payne
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Simon Zebo
10. Johnny Sexton (Joey Carbery ‘59)
9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath (Cian Healy ‘61 )
2. Rory Best (Sean Cronin ‘71)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Finlay Bealham ‘57)
4. Donnacha Ryan (Ultan Dillane ’66)
5. Devin Toner
6. CJ Stander
7. Jordi Murphy (Josh van der Flier ‘26)
8. Jamie Heaslip

21. Kieran Marmion
23. Garry Ringrose

New Zealand

15. Ben Smith
14. Waisake Naholo (Aaron Cruden ’59)
13. George Moala (Codie Taylor ’71)
12. Ryan Crotty (Malakai Fekitoa ‘26)
11. Julian Savea
10. Beauden Barrett
9. Aaron Smith (TJ Perenara ‘45)

1. Joe Moody (Ofa Tu’ungafasi ’59)
2. Dane Coles
3. Owen Franks
4. Patrick Tuipulotu (Ardie Savea’59)
5. Jerome Kaino (Scott Barrett ‘45)
6. Liam Squire
7. Sam Cane
8. Kieran Read

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)

Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

Attendance: 62,300

Updated at 23.57 Irish time to show teams and replacements

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As it happened: Ireland v New Zealand, November International

The42 Rugby Show from Chicago

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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