Ireland's major statement in historic victory over All Blacks

By Padraic Halpin
Ireland's major statement in historic victory over All Blacks

Ireland beat the All Blacks 16-9 at home for the first time on Saturday and laid a major marker for the Rugby World Cup next year.

The blockbuster matchup of No. 1 and No. 2, the champions of each hemisphere, lived up to the hype. Ireland edged a rugged first half, and in a more open second half produced a classic try and kept New Zealand tryless for the first time in more than four years.

At a highly charged Lansdowne Road, Ireland became the only team to beat New Zealand twice since the All Blacks won a second straight Rugby World Cup in 2015.

The first time was in 2016 in Chicago, Ireland's first win over New Zealand in 111 years.

One of Ireland's greatest ever victories. Pic: Getty

Even with that mental block gone, this victory was far more impressive: New Zealand was closer to full strength, and far more aware of Ireland's threats.

But it didn't matter.

Even after enduring a hugely physical first half that was exhausting just to watch, Ireland had the wherewithal to perfectly execute a try-scoring move from a lineout near halfway.

Flyhalf Jonathan Sexton switched play to Bundee Aki running back to the short side, and wing Jacob Stockdale chipped ahead.

Rugby Union - Ireland v New Zealand - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland - November 17, 2018 Ireland's CJ Stander celebrates at the end of the match REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

He brushed past the surprised All Blacks, regathered and slid in from five meters out.

Sexton converted from wide out for 16-6 with half an hour to go, and put the pressure right back on the All Blacks.

But they limited them to just one more penalty.

No.8 CJ Stander hailed a huge defensive effort as Ireland claimed their first win over New Zealand on home soil.

"We always pride ourselves in attack but today our defence was unreal," Stander said.

"To keep them scoreless in tries was unbelievable. The boys really stood up."