Brilliant Ireland beat try-less New Zealand in Dublin

A rugby player fends off a tackle

Ireland produced a superb display to secure a monumental and thoroughly deserved victory over New Zealand following a 16-9 triumph at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

In a match billed as being the game of the November series, it was a brutal encounter, but the scoring was left to the respective kickers in the first half – Johnny Sexton and Beauden Barrett – as they traded a brace of three-pointers in the opening half-an-hour.

Sexton then gave the hosts the lead just shy of the interval as they moved 9-6 ahead before Jacob Stockdale increased that buffer in the second period.

That was enough for Joe Schmidt’s men to claim just their second victory over the All Blacks, after their triumph in Chicago two years ago, despite Barrett's late penalty.

Similar to last week’s Test at Twickenham, it was a confrontational opening with the hosts physically testing the world champions, but this time the All Blacks were much more abrasive in the early exchanges. They controlled the play and pressurized the opposition line but, to the home side’s credit, they produced an outstanding defensive set to negate that threat.

Ireland were duly rewarded minutes later when they moved into the visiting 22 and, following an offside infringement, Sexton kicked them ahead.

Back came New Zealand and, after a penalty out wide, Barrett was impressively on target from the tee to level matters at the end of the first quarter.

Steve Hansen’s men had yet to truly find their stride, however, and their penalty count was mounting, giving Schmidt’s charges a chance to put the away team under further duress.

Ireland were ferocious with ball in hand, forcing their opponents into errors, and their fly-half regained their advantage with a three-pointer.

The All Blacks once again responded via a Barrett drop-goal, but the Emerald Isle were the dominant outfit and Sexton deservedly gave them a three-point buffer going into the interval.

Following an exhilarating first-half, a couple of mistakes crept into the hosts’ game at the start of the second period, with Peter O’Mahony dropping the ball and Stockdale almost gifting a try to Kieran Read, but those two players soon made up for that.

Firstly, O’Mahony won a penalty at the breakdown before the wing took over, producing a piece of individual brilliance to help take Ireland 10 points in front. It was an excellently worked play as Sexton and Bundee Aki combined to provide Stockdale with some space on the short side, but there was still plenty to do and the Ulsterman finished brilliantly.

That was the decisive score, despite the visitors increasing the pressure midway through the half. Barrett, having gone to full-back following the arrival of Richie Mo’unga, probed in the wider channels but their opponents’ cover defence often mopped up.

Barrett did reduce the arrears from the tee but the All Blacks were tactically naive at times in the latter stages, running the ball when it wasn’t on, and Ireland superbly held on to lay down a marker for the World Cup.

The scorers:

For Ireland:

  • Try: Stockdale
  • Con: Sexton
  • Pens: Sexton 3

For New Zealand:

  • Pens: Barrett 2
  • Drop-goal: Barrett

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy
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

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 (c), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Sam Whitelock, 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

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

© TEAMtalk Media

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