Ireland better in all aspects of the game and withstand intense pressure to come home 16-9 in an intriguing game.
Ireland end the jinx. We’ve beaten New Zealand in a rugby international test on home soil for the first time.
Holding New Zealand to nine points and no tries is almost unheard of on this side of the equator. They usually get in, especially in the last twenty minutes, but they looked like they were running on fumes towards the end.
The try that decided it came from Jacob Stockdale. Getting the ball on halfway, breaking, kicking, regathering and sliding in for the score. Just awesome.
Keith Earls mopped up every restart that came his way tonight, banishing the ghosts of last weekend, and he was solid in defence. He didn’t get enough time on the ball going forward, but when he did he looked good.
The fact that his opposite number Rieko Ioane had such a quiet game (at least by his own standards) showed that he has added a lot to his game. He seems to get better each year.
Rob Kearney looked like he was playing a Pro 14 game, catching high balls and dodging tackles. The one blip, a penalty for colliding with the airborne Ioane can be excused. He was staring at the ball in anticipation of the catch.
Toner settled the line out. It shook when he came off. We need him to last the eighty minutes in Japan. Henderson made his own impact when he came on; he’s a nuisance at the ruck.
The centre partnership of Ringrose and Aki worked well tonight, making huge tackles, fighting for every ruck and generally shutting down Barrett every time he made a run.
Mistakes were what would decide this game is what I predicted. The All Blacks made them all over the pitch, but two knocks-ons inside the Irish twenty-two stand out.
They also lost the penalty battle and were lucky not to have a man in the bin in the first half.
There are some weary bodies going to their hotels or homes tonight. Job well done. Now what’s next. The World Cup?