Ireland 9- New Zealand 21
The All Blacks avenged their loss in Chicago with a 21-9 win over Ireland at the Aviva Stadium today.
It was a tense affair in which Aaron Smith and Malakai Fekitoa were shown yellow cards, but Ireland were unable to score any tries in search of back-to-back victories over the world champions.
Fekitoa was first to cross for the All Blacks, and a Beauden Barrett try thereafter gave New Zealand a 14-6 lead at half-time, with Johnny Sexton and Paddy Jackson each adding a penalty. Jackson added another to make it a five-point game after the break, but a second try from Fekitoa sealed the win for the All Blacks in Dublin.
It was a frustrating day for Ireland who dominated territory and possession but could not convert a host of half-chances to add to the historic 40-29 win they achieved over New Zealand in the United States a fortnight ago. Ireland boasted 67 per cent possession and 70 per cent territory, but only wound up with three penalty goals to show for it.
New Zealand came out of the blocks with furious intent as they retained their kick-off, fought for every ruck and maul and took their chances when they came.
The first chance came when Conor Murray miscued his grubber kick to undermine an excellent Ireland turnover, and the All Blacks pounced.
Barrett’s skimmed crossfield kick dropped sweetly for Fekitoa, who stepped inside Murray and bundled home.
The out-of-sorts Aaron Smith threw a wayward pass to hand Ireland a chance next though, then knocking on at a lineout to boost the hosts’ hand still further.
Jamie Heaslip powered over counterpart Kieran Read, and Sean O’Brien thundered for the whitewash. The Leinster man surely saw himself scoring – but somehow Barrett hauled him in to hold him up.
CJ Stander then linked up with Heaslip to get over the line on from the scrum, but was again held up and Ireland opted for pragmatism, with Sexton converting a penalty to trail 7-3.
Ireland then lost Robbie Henshaw, wiped out unwittingly by Sam Cane as he spun in a tackle. Sexton was left incredulous that Cane was not hit with more punishment than a simple penalty.
Henshaw raised a thumbs-up to the crowd as he departed on a motorised cart, with Leinster youngster Garry Ringrose forced into the number 12 slot for just his second cap.
Barrett chipped Ireland’s line, collected and fired off a no-look pass – but Andrew Trimble read it, and so nearly intercepted for what would have been a canter home. The Ulster wing’s knock-on denied that attack, but New Zealand were shortly on the scoresheet again.
TMO Jon Mason responded in the affirmative when asked by Peyper “Can you see grounding on the grass?” when it appeared Sexton had rolled Barrett and stopped him dotting down.
Scrum-half Aaron Smith then landed New Zealand in further hot water, conceding two quick penalties for offside and was sent to the sin-bin.
Johnny Sexton pulled up with a hamstring injury and Paddy Jackson entered the fray, further disrupting Ireland’s backline.
Ireland wasted a gilt-edged platform with a cheap offside rolling a maul, then Jackson punted a penalty as the hosts had to settle for a three-point gain from the yellow card.
CJ Stander bulldozed Fekitoa, but his night was quickly cut short due to a suspected concussion. The Munster star failed a head injury assessment and did not return, with Josh Van der Flier into the action.
Barrett was denied a second try when rightly judged to have knocked on in dislodging the ball from Jackson’s grasp, and the game remained finely poised with New Zealand 14-6 ahead at the break.
Fekitoa was sin-binned for a high tackle on Simon Zebo, leaving New Zealand down a man for the second time in the match.
Ireland wasted two penalty lineouts, first from a cheap knock-on and then after Van der Flier forced an offload that simply was not on.
Jackson fired over a penalty amid yet more Irish pressure, to leave New Zealand leading 14-9 on the hour.
Finally Ireland were within one score – but then New Zealand turned it on. Fekitoa eased home thanks to Barrett’s fine inside-ball offload to TJ Perenara. Referee Peyper immediately awarded the try, much to Ireland’s fury.
Replays suggested Perenara’s pass moved forward, but Peyper had few qualms in opting not to call on the TMO despite Best’s best efforts to get him to have another look.
Scoring sequence: 5 mins Fekitoa try, Barrett con 0-7; 10 mins Sexton pen 3-7; 14 mins Barrett try and con 3-14; 25 mins Jackson pen 6-14; (6-14); 58 mins Jackson pen 9-14; 66 mins Fekitoa try, Barrett con 9-21.
Replacements: G Ringrose (Leinster) for Henshaw (11 mins), P Jackson (Ulster) for Murray (17 mins), J Van der Flier (Leinster) for Stander (22 mins), C Healy (Leinster) for McGrath, I Henderson (Ulster) for Ryan (both 58 mins), S Cronin (Leinster) for Best, F Bealham (Connacht) for Furlong (both 68 mins), K Marmion (Connacht) for Zebo (76 mins).
NEW ZEALAND: B Smith (Highlanders); I Dagg (Crusaders), M Fekitoa (Highlanders), A Lienert-Brown (Chiefs), J Savea (Hurricanes); B Barrett (Hurricanes), A Smith (Highalnders); J Moody (Crusaders), D Coles (Hurricanes), O Franks (Crusaders); B Retallick (Cheifs), S Whitelock (Blues); L Squire (Highlanders), S Cane (Chiefs), K Read (Crusaders, capt).
Replacements: TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) for A Smith, A Cruden (Chiefs) for J Savea (both 58 mins), S Barrett (Crusaders) for Squire (68 mins), W Naholo (Highlanders) for B Smith (73 mins), C Taylor (Crusaders) for Coles (76 mins).
Sinbinned: A Smith (17-27 mins), Fekitoa (49-59 mins),
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa).