Sensational Ireland stun All Blacks to win series

Third Test

New Zealand 22-32 Ireland

Ireland sensationally beat the All Blacks 32-22 in the third Test to win a series in New Zealand for the first time in their history.

The unprecedented result was built through a stunning first-half performance, which saw Andy Farrell’s side lead 22-3 at half-time after tries from Josh van der Flier, Hugo Keenan and Robbie Henshaw.

The All Blacks dominated the start of the second half, including a sin-bin period for Andrew Porter, to bring it back to 25-22 with a quarter to play – but Rob Herring’s close-range try settled Irish nerves and Johnny Sexton’s conversion pressed their advantage back out with a little over 10 minutes to play.

From that point, Ireland controlled the closing stages of the contest and as the clock went red, the tears from Peter O’Mahony on the sidelines highlighted what it meant to become only the third side ever to win a three-Test series in New Zealand.

“It’s a very special day because we’re playing against the very best in the world. To come down here and do it is very, very special,” Sexton said.

“It’s clear how much belief we have, and it starts with the main man [Andy Farrell]. He’s done an amazing job and it’s all credit to him.”

Ireland celebrate after taking an early lead.

Ireland commenced the deciding Test in the best-possible fashion as their pack delivered a powerful rolling maul and Van der Flier dotted down after four minutes.

Sexton hooked the conversion attempt left of the uprights though, something his kicking counterpart Jordie Barrett would do seven minutes later off a penalty.

Barrett reset his radar just after the conclusion of the first quarter to open New Zealand’s account. However, with the weight of expectation on them, they remained nervous and ill-disciplined.

Van der Flier was instrumental on the back foot too. His turnover burst a spot of Kiwi confidence and shortly after, speedsters James Lowe and Hugo Keenan launched down the left.

Lowe’s pop pass to Keenan was beautifully timed and Sexton’s boot added both the conversion and another penalty to march them further on.

Henshaw as the next man to cross for the visitors as they remained totally in control of the contest. Further points from his captain’s boots capped off a dream first half and as the tourists led 22-3 at the break.

A 19-point deficit was New Zealand’s largest half-time deficit in a Test and the Kiwi reaction came swiftly after the interval.

Hugo Keenan celebrates Ireland’s second try.

The home side were led by Ardie Savea, who did his utmost to win the decider on his own. Savea’s 44th-minute try got their scoreboard rolling for the hosts, with more to come shortly after.

When Porter was handed a yellow card for a head-on-head contact with Brodie Retallick, New Zealand capitalised on the extra man.

Akira Ioane and Will Jordan added further tries while Porter was off the park, countered by just one Sexton penalty and another bouncing agonisingly off the crossbar.

At 25-22 with a quarter to go, it looked as if New Zealand might complete the most remarkable comeback. Farrell’s men remained composed and once back to a full contingent, set about pressing their case further.

Like Ireland’s first try of the match, the forwards set a platform to work from, Rob Herring then broke off the maul at exactly the right time and produced a pinpoint one-handed grounding.

Sexton’s final conversion extended their lead back to 10 points with 15 minutes to play. From there, they remained composed and calm to get over the line and produce history in Wellington.


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