Ireland absolutely stunned New Zealand with a famous victory against the All Blacks tonight. The build-up featured talk of the recent rivalry that has sprung up between these two nations, and from very early on it was clear that the match would be another fascinating encounter in their ongoing battle.
An early attack down the right, orchestrated by Sexton and finished by Conway, was a clear indicator that Ireland would play with the same attacking intent that gave them a 60-5 victory over Japan last week.
It also put to bed any fears that Ireland would not be able to execute such a style of play against the much superior opposition of the no. 1 ranked team in the world.
In the end, it was Ireland's third win over New Zealand in five attempts. This is the first of four meetings between the countries this season and its clear from the deference shown to Ireland by both the New Zealand coaching staff and their supporters on social media that Ireland are true rivals of the All Blacks.
Ireland v New Zealand Reaction
Following the match the New Zealand media were quick to praise Ireland and their style of play.
Writing for stuff, Marc Hinton recognised the ability of the home side.
"Let’s give Ireland credit first. You can’t call it an ambush when you know it’s coming, and the New Zealanders went into this contest well aware of what was heading their way from a home side with its confidence and belief up. For all that, they simply had no answer to the urgency and aggression of their hosts, even if they were able to stay in the contest on the back of an heroic defensive effort."
New Zealand coach Ian Foster also followed suit in his post-game press conference.
"There's certainly a desire from Ireland to play with a little bit more ambition... that was the best Ireland performance I've been involved in."
Respect 🤝 pic.twitter.com/DCLxeDe5M1
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 13, 2021
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 13, 2021
Beaten up again - again we lose a game where our forwards are beaten to the punch. All credit to Ireland and thoroughly deserved but we are still not adapting it's like we don't want to? #IREvNZ
— Rogan (@rmtempler) November 13, 2021
Accuracy and intent were the main players in Ireland's win last week , and it was the same two players that gave Ireland their third win ever over the All Blacks.
The accuracy of Ireland's passing and their decision making allowed them to make in roads over the gain line and force errors and penalties out of the New Zealand side.
The intent was seen in their willingness to go wide and their decisions to forgo shots at the posts and instead kick to the line.
They were duly rewarded with a try from James Lowe after 15 minutes, following relentless pressure in the New Zealand 22.
The performance Ireland put in from minute one is summed up nicely by stuff writer Richard Knowler,
"Now we know it. Dublin remains a city where the All Blacks should fear to tread."
He also acknowledged the contributions from Ireland's New Zealanders,
"This performance was better than their effort in 2018; the Irish wanted to attack, attack, attack by shifting the ball at speed from set phases, delivering quick passes in contact and it was no wonder that with 15 minutes still remaining that the All Blacks had already made more than 210 tackles.
Amid the frantic action were Aki, Gibson-Park and Lowe, as was another New Zealander Joey Carbery when he immediately kicked a crucial penalty as a replacement for Johnny Sexton after he had left the field for a head injury assessment."
The relentless pressure continued for the remainder of the half, which lead to players, pundits, and fans alike wondering how Ireland were five points down after 40 minutes.
Tadhg Furlong had had a try disallowed after the play was brought for a double movement from Rónan Kelleher. Johnny Sexton and Gibson-Park also came agonisingly close to giving Ireland their second try.
But the ever clinical, no panic All Blacks had scored a try of their own through hooker Codie Taylor, who had earlier received a yellow card for a high hit on Johnny Sexton.
In classic New Zealand fashion it was a try from nothing. Off a rather inconspicuous lineout maul outside the Irish 22, backrow Dalton Papalii broke free after a miscommunication in the Irish defensive line, and put Taylor over for an easy finish.
The difference essentially boiled down to kicks missed by Ireland, and put away by the All Blacks.
The second half proved to be a classic as Ireland began as they had left off, and were finally rewarded for their pressure when Kelleher drove over from close range with the help of a strong latch from Iain Henderson.
Some members of the New Zealand media had been expecting a better reaction from their side after being dominated territorially and possession-wise in the first half.
Paul Bains of New Zealand Sport Radio echoed these thoughts after the game.
"Having had Ireland dominate all that half I think there was a feeling amongst the New Zealand fans anyway that they would go into the sheds, there'd be some coaching advice and they'd come out and change a few things and take the game by the scruff of the neck.
"But that did not happen and Ireland managed to continue the same dominance of possession."
— Paul from New Zealand Sport Radio (@DrivingMaul) November 13, 2021
Ireland then got their own try-out-of-nothing when MOTM Caelan Doris broke through the tackle of Taylor on New Zealand's 22 and found himself with a clear run to the line.
As usual the All Blacks weren't fazed, and on 60 minutes the crowd were finally treated to a glimpse of the mercurial Will Jordan's skills when the winger chip over James Lowe was gathered by Rieko Ioane and passed back to Jordan from him to finish under the posts.
It made for a nervy finish for Ireland particularly when at 23-17, Akira Ioane went over for a score but it was disallowed for a marginal forward pass.
Sexton also had to leave the field, leaving Joey Carbery the task of guiding Ireland home to victory, a duty he performed admirably, and a highlight of which was a 50 metre penalty to make it 26-20, before putting the game to bed just before the 80 minutes were up.
Of course, no New Zealand loss comes without harsh criticism, with a lot of it being aimed at coach Ian Foster.
I'm sorry but two losses to Ireland and one to Argentina is now a pattern with this coach. Had no answer to an excellent Ireland. Foster is effectively the Roy Evans of the Graham Henry bootroom (Henry is Shankly, Hansen Paisley). @AllBlacks need to change to freshen. #IrlvNzl
— Jason Collie (@ukcavhead) November 13, 2021