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'All Blacks, Beware': The New Zealand Herald Are Worried About Ireland On Saturday

'All Blacks, Beware': The New Zealand Herald Are Worried About Ireland On Saturday
By Gavan Casey

Ireland face the seemingly invincible All Blacks in Chicago this Saturday, seeking to avenge the heartbreak of 2013 and, you know, the other 26 times New Zealand have seen us off by varying margins.

It speaks volumes as to the dominance of Steve Hansen's men that the handicap for the fixture at Soldier Field currently stands at 23 points, with the record-breaking Kiwis looking to reach two more milestones against a country who have famously never toppled them.

In the New Zealand Herald today, however, rugby journalist Campbell Burnes has warned the All Blacks against complacency, though it says a lot that he's required to cite two very different Irish victories over the southern superpower as cause for caution.

We know all about Munster's famous 12-0 victory over the All Blacks in 1978.

But you may have forgotten that the Black Ferns were tipped over 17-14 by Ireland in the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup. Or, even more recently, that the New Zealand Under 20s were beaten 33-24 by their Irish counterparts in June's Junior World Championship.

That Munster anecdote is the very first line in a comprehensive article; even the Kiwis, it would seem, haven't been allowed to forget about the southern province's most famous day of all. He goes on to regale readers with tales of New Zealand's near-catastrophes against Ireland, which stretch back as far as the sixties, before questioning Johnny Sexton's bottle during Ireland's most recent defeat to the Blacks in Dublin:

Ireland have never beaten the All Blacks, but there have been close shaves down the years. In 1963 it was 6-5, in 1973 it was 10-all, in 1978 the Grand Slammers needed a late Andy Dalton try to take the chocolates, in 1992 the All Blacks laboured to a 24-21 win in Dunedin, and in 2002 Ireland would have won on a bitterly cold night at Carisbrook if David Humphreys had started ahead of Ronan O'Gara.

In 2012, it needed a late, and rare, Dan Carter pot for the All Blacks to triumph in Christchurch. If Johnny Sexton's mental strength had not failed him in the clutch with a makeable penalty goal, the 2013 Ireland side would surely have won an historic victory in Dublin. As it was, Ryan Crotty's last gasp try snatched the result.

You can read about those games and other close shaves in more detail here.

The NZ Herald article goes on to describe how Ireland u20s played a more intelligent brand of rugby than their opposition during this summer's World Championship, berating New Zealand for insisting that they play expansively in light rain. "It is no use saying that they would have won by plenty on a dry day," writes Burnes.

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And, though he doesn't explicitly mention Joe Schmidt, he's clearly wary of Ireland's wily head coach, concluding rather ominously from a Kiwi perspective:

The most talented side does not always win, but the smarter side invariably does. All Blacks, beware.

Irish fans will doubtless appreciate the sentiment, but it's been 19 tests since we've seen a smarter side than this current All Blacks crop, and probably five years since a more talented squad has taken to the pitch anywhere on the planet.

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Still, we have to beat them at some stage, right? Right???

Check out Campbell Burnes' full article in the New Zealand Herald.

SEE ALSO: Two More Records The All Blacks Could Break Against Ireland In Chicago

5 Times Ireland Came Incredibly Bloody Close To Beating New Zealand

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