Joy as Ireland claim historic first home victory against rugby world champions New Zealand
Sport

Joy as Ireland claim historic first home victory against rugby world champions New Zealand

IT took Ireland 111 years to record a first win over New Zealand, but they have now beaten the All Blacks for a second time.

That historic first victory at Soldier Field in Chicago two years ago came on the 29th attempt.

However it took only two games for Ireland to claim a second All Black scalp following the November 2016 Aviva defeat.

At the Aviva Stadium this evening, Ireland kept the reigning world champions try-less in their first home victory over the All Blacks, only the second northern hemisphere side to do so since 1995 after the Lions' 24-21 victory in Wellington last year.

Sexton on target

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Despite a strong start for New Zealand, Ireland took the lead on 11 minutes through a Johnny Sexton penalty from in front of the posts.

New Zealand levelled seven minutes later through Sexton’s opposite number Beauden Barrett.

Defences were on top, but Ireland kept New Zealand on the back foot and won a series of penalties as indiscipline crept into the All Blacks’ game.

They doubled their advantage with another Sexton penalty after a try was ruled out for a knock-on.

Despite a Beaudin drop goal, a third Sexton penalty ensured Ireland’s dominance was rewarded with a half-time lead.

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Any fears Ireland might rue not making more of the All Blacks’ nine first-half penalties were eased with a stunning try upon the resumption.

New Zealand native Bundee Aki was involved in the build-up, finding Jacob Stockdale on the wing who chipped the ball over the top before charging through to finish.

Sexton converted to make it 16-6 after 43 minutes.

Fullback Rob Kearney, returning from injury, snuffed out anything the All Blacks could muster, however they managed a Barrett penalty within minutes of his substitution.

It failed to inspire a comeback though and despite probing in the final 10 minutes, they could find no way through Ireland’s stubborn defence.

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While there’s still a while to go, the performance bodes well for Ireland ahead of their Six Nations defence in February and more importantly, the Rugby Word Cup in Japan next autumn.

'Fantastic defence'

Speaking to Channel 4 Sport after the game, Rory Best praised Ireland’s defensive performance.

“It was a fantastic game,” said Best. “We knew we were going to have to play well, we knew we were going to have to attack them and go after them – we did that.

“To stop New Zealand scoring a try shows what a fantastic defensive effort it is.

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“The boys are very tired in there but it’s amazing what a win like that can do to give you a little bit more energy.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar led the tributes to Joe Schmidt's side, dubbing them the ‘best in the world’.

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