New Zealand 22
HISTORY was made at the Sky Stadium at Wellington on Saturday as Ireland deservedly won the third and deciding Test to win a Test Series on New Zealand soil for the first time ever.
New Zealand would have been keen to make a fast start but again it was Ireland that started incredibly quickly for the third week in a row, scoring from an attacking lineout in the fourth minute when Josh van der Flier was on the back of the Irish rolling maul that completely obliterated the All Black pack once the Irish forwards put the shove on.
Jordie Barrett then badly sliced what looked like a simple looking penalty attempt from straight in front of the posts in the 11th minute in what was an early let-off, but the Hurricanes full back made no mistake from under the posts in the 23rd minute to get the Kiwi’s up and running.
Despite that three pointer it was Ireland that was playing all the rugby and they were in for their second try in the 28th minute in what was a superbly worked team try.
After obtaining a penalty advantage from a lineout maul Ireland ran it left, and after the initial attack had been repelled Bundee Aki then punched a hole, and when Ireland went left again Mack Hansen flung a pass out to James Lowe, who was able to pop it inside to the supporting Hugo Keenan who crashed over in the corner for a great try.
Jonathan Sexton added the extras and after poor All Black discipline just three minutes later he was able to land a superb 45m penalty to extend Ireland’s early lead to 3-15.
New Zealand were guilty of forcing it with a speculative offload under their own posts that ended with a knock-on, and from the resultant scrum Ireland struck again, with Dan Sheehan, Sexton and Aki all combining with lightning quick hands to send Robbie Henshaw galloping in untouched to the left of the posts, with the New Zealand defence in complete disarray as Ireland went in at half time totally deserving of their commanding 3-22 lead.
The All Blacks may have been shell-shocked going in at half time but they gave themselves a lifeline immediately after the resumption, as after multiple phases near the Irish line their number eight Ardea Savea muscled over from close range in the 43rd minute.
Andrew Porter was yellow carded in the 50th minute for a head on collision with Brodie Retallick, and in truth it could easily have been red, and from the resultant penalty the All Blacks struck with late call-up Akira Ioane evading four would-be Irish tacklers to crash over.
Ireland’s three score lead had been eroded down to one, but Sexton pushed it back out to 17-25 in the 56th minute when he slotted a 25m penalty, and two minutes later, after a trademark Tadhg Beirne jackal he had another chance from the half way line, only to see his long range attempt ricochet off the crossbar, and a few phases later Savea passed inside to the New Zealand speedster Will Jordan who broke the Irish line deep inside his own half, and with only Sexton to beat he was able to race away to score on the hour mark to make it a three point game.
The All Blacks were sniffing blood now, but they were hit by an Irish sucker punch in the 64th minute when Rob Herring burrowed over at the back of another devastating Irish maul after Aki had again got Ireland in behind the Kiwi cover.
The All Blacks battered Ireland late on but the heroic Irish defence held firm and Andy Farrell’s side held on to secure an historic and deserved Series victory.
Scorers for New Zealand: J Barrett (1 pen, 2 cons), Savea, Ioane, Jordan (1 try each) Ireland: Sexton (2 pens, 3 cons), Van der Flier, Keenan, Henshaw, Herring (1 try each)
New Zealand: J Barrett; Reece, R Ioane, Havilii, Jordan; B Barrett, Smith; Bower, Taylor, Laulala; Retallick, Whitelock, A ioane, Cane (capt), Savea.
Subs: Tu'ungafasi for Laulala (40), Laulala for Tu'ungafasi (44), Vaa’I for Retallick (50), Cole, Papalii, Fakatava and Mo'unga for Taylor, Cane, Smith and Reece (63) Tuivasa-Sheck for R Ioane (68), Tuinukuafe for Bower (72).
Ireland: Keenan; Hansen, Henshaw, Aki, Lowe; Sexton (capt), Gibson-Park; Porter, Sheehan, Furlong; Beirne, Ryan; O'Mahony, van der Flier, Doris.
Subs: Healy for van der Flier (54), Herring and van der Flier for Sheehan and Healy (61), Conan for O’Mahony (67), Earls for Aki (69), Healy, Bealham and Murray for Porter, Furlong and Gibson-Park (70), Treadwell and Carbery for Beirne and Sexton (76).
Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)