Ireland produced a clinical performance in Dunedin on Saturday to claim their first win against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil.
With the historic 23-12 victory, Ireland levelled the three-Test series at one all, bouncing back from their heavy 42-19 defeat by New Zealand in the opener.
It was also Ireland’s third win over the All Blacks in the past five Tests between the two teams.
In a dramatic first half, Ireland took a 10-point lead in the first 13 minutes, thanks to an early try from prop Andrew Porter and Johnny Sexton’s penalty.
South African referee Jaco Peyper then took centre stage as New Zealand first lost wing Leicester Fainga’anuku to a yellow card for a dangerous chargedown on Ireland wing Mack Hansen, and soon after Ofa Tu’ungafasi denied Garry Ringrose a potential try-scoring opportunity with an early tackle. However, after consulting with the TMO, Peyper decided that there was enough cover to avoid awarding a penalty try, but still yellow-carded the All Blacks tighthead prop.
While New Zealand welcomed Fainga’anuku without conceding a point, they were then reduced to 13 men when replacement tighthead Angus Ta’avao was red-carded for dangerous head collision with Ringrose.
Ireland, though, lost all composure and failed to punish their opponents in the first half. In true All Blacks fashion, New Zealand hung in there, before striking just before the break when Beauden Barrett pounced on a loose ball metres from the tryline to score and make it a three-point deficit at the break.
Whatever was said in the Ireland change room at half time, seemed to pay off as the visitors looked recomposed in the second half and quickly extended their lead through Porter’s second try.
Sexton nailed the conversion and another two penalties to take Ireland to a three-score lead, going into the final 10 minutes of the match. The All Blacks laid siege to the Irish tryline and, while Will Jordan offered a ray of hope with a late try in the corner, the visitors held out to get the win and set up a series finale in Wellington.
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