Ireland produced a physically dominant display to clinch a stunning nine-point win over the All Blacks in Dublin on Saturday.
What a game, and what a result. Ireland played New Zealand off their feet from start to finish to clinch what is arguably the upset of the year as they secured a 29-20 win in front of a delirious home crowd.
In a breathless, ferocious and frenetic first half, Ireland dominated every aspect of the game except on the scoreboard.
On the backfoot throughout the half, the All Blacks were forced to make well over 150 tackles, with their hosts notching a maximum of 37 over the same period.
Ireland were all about taking the game to New Zealand, but their quest for tries led to a bizarre refusal to turn pressure into points via the kicking tee and it resulted in them trailing at the midway mark.
James Lowe had opened the scoring for his adopted country against the country of his birth but, as they so often do, New Zealand landed a double blow with a penalty and a converted try against the run of play to take a 10-5 lead.
Despite New Zealand’s masterful defence, the relentless Ireland intensity continued at the start of the second stanza but, unlike earlier, their pressure yielded results this time.
A 15-point swing with tries from hooker Ronan Kelleher and Caelan Doris and a conversion and penalty from the boot of Johnny Sexton gave Ireland a deserved 20-10 lead.
But, New Zealand can never be discounted from a race. They again hit back with a moment of magic from Will Jordan to reduce the deficit to three points. Ireland then added two further penalties either side of one from Jordie Barrett for New Zealand to set up a grand finale in the last 10 minutes, with the hosts holding a slender 26-20 lead.
The game was decided in the 79th minute when New Zealand tried to play out from inside their own half, but conceded a penalty at the breakdown in front of the posts. Joey Carbery stepped up to knock the penalty over to make it a nine-point difference, which meant the All Blacks would have to score twice in 30 seconds to get the desired result.
It was a step too far for even New Zealand and, in the end, Ireland went on to claim a stunning victory.