Ireland stun New Zealand as Rónan Kelleher sparks second-half onslaught | Autumn internationals


Ireland celebrated their greatest win of the Andy Farrell era so far as they deservedly held on to defeat New Zealand 29-20 in a pulsating encounter in Dublin. The Irish controlled much of a frenetic contest against the world’s top-ranked side to send a boisterous Aviva Stadium crowd home happy.

A trio of late penalties from Joey Carbery ultimately proved crucial following tries from native Kiwi James Lowe, Rónan Kelleher and Caelan Doris.

New Zealand, who lost their influential fly-half Beauden Barrett to injury early on, arrived in record-breaking form having scored an unprecedented 675 points and 96 tries in winning 12 of 13 fixtures this calendar year.

Although Ian Foster’s side struggled to contain the hosts, they remained within touching distance until the final whistle following scores from Codie Taylor and Will Jordan, while Akira Ioane had a try chalked off.

But they could have few complaints about the end result as Ireland impressively registered only a third win from 33 meetings with their opponents to partially avenge their World Cup quarter-final exit of 2019, which marked the end of Joe Schmidt’s reign.

Ireland’s build-up included the disruption of undergoing additional PCR testing on Friday following the false alarm of a potential case of coronavirus for an unnamed player, in addition to a letter of support from US president Joe Biden, who has Irish ancestry.

The home side met the haka by taking a collective stride forward before a rendition of The Fields of Athenry broke out among the stadium’s first capacity crowd for a rugby match in almost two years.

Ireland did not look to be unduly affected by the previous day’s Covid-19 episode and began like a team intent on building on last weekend’s impressive demolition of Japan.

Despite requiring a remarkable combined tackle from Garry Ringrose and Andrew Conway to stop Jordie Barrett crossing early on, they deservedly went ahead in the immediate aftermath of Taylor being sent to the sin-bin after catching Johnny Sexton’s head with a shoulder.

Quick ball from right to left culminated in Hugo Keenan teeing up former Maori All Blacks player Lowe – one of three native Kiwis in Ireland’s starting XV – to dive over in the left corner for the second-successive week.

“Never in a million years did I think this day would come,” Lowe said. “I dreamt of being an All Black as a kid. I gave up that dream as I wasn’t good enough, and to come over here, to hear my native country anthem and stand in front of the haka, it’s a childhood dream.”

That 15th-minute score increased the noise in the stands but was swiftly tempered by Jordie Barrett slotting a penalty to reduce the deficit after Sexton missed the conversion.

Ireland’s captain Sexton later received on-field treatment for an apparent leg injury before the scoreboard swung in the All Blacks’ favour in an action-packed three minutes.

After Ireland prop Tadhg Furlong had a try disallowed following incessant home pressure, the Kiwis broke and the returning Taylor latched on to Dalton Papalii’s pass to touch down, with Jordie Barrett adding the extras to ensure they led at the break.

Ireland continued to pen the visitors back but were lacking the clinical edge their head coach Farrell had called for at his pre-match press conference. They improved considerably on that front early in the second period.

Hooker Kelleher bulldozed over to level the scores at 10-10 with his sixth try from only seven international starts. Sexton struck the posts with his conversion but made no mistake seven minutes later after flanker Doris exploited a gap in the All Blacks defence to charge clear into their 22 and dot down to the delight of the home crowd.

“Such a special feeling having a full crowd back, we waited for it for so long,” said Doris after the game.

Despite Ireland’s prolonged dominance, the three-time world champions refused to roll over. New Zealand winger Jordan helped bring them to within just three points, chipping over the top and then receiving the ball back from Rieko Ioane to zoom clear and touch down.

Sexton departed gingerly for a head injury assessment 15 minutes from time and replacement Carbery soon kicked a penalty to make it 23-17 during an influential cameo. New Zealand threatened to steal what would have been a unmerited victory when Akira Ioane dotted down.

But that score was eventually ruled out for a forward pass and they had to settle for just the consolation of another Jordie Barrett penalty.

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Ireland, who complete their autumn campaign at home to Argentina next weekend, will embark on a three-Test tour of New Zealand next summer and were not to be denied. A couple more penalties from Carbery guaranteed a seventh-successive win, prompting a deafening noise from the delirious terraces followed by a lap of honour.

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Source link : https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/nov/13/ireland-new-zealand-autumn-international-rugby-union-match-report

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Publish date : 2021-11-13 22:54:00

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