It took 111 years, but Ireland have finally beaten the All Blacks in an historic 40-29 win in front of 62,000 fans at Soilder Field.
It was nothing short of a thriller in Chicago, and the perfect way to end a history-making week of sport in the city–the Cubs baseball team won the World Series. Head coach Joe Schmidt, a kiwi-born coach, can now say he was at the helm of the first Irish side to ever beat the All Blacks.
There is no doubt that Ireland were the better side on the day, but it was also an unusually poor performance from the All Blacks.
Ireland 40 – Jordi Murphy, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Simon Zebo, Robbie Henshaw tries; Johnny Sexton con (3) pen (3)
All Blacks 29 – George Moala, TJ Perenara, Ben Smith, Scott Barrett tries; Beauden Barrett con (3) pen (1)
Ireland Beat All Blacks For The First Time
Robbie Henshaw scored the match-winning try for Ireland, ending the drought against the All Blacks that has endured for over a century. The Irish ran in five tries, and there were many moments of brilliance, not the least of which was Conor Murray’s piece of individual brilliance to score what was the try of the match.
A dejected Kieran Read was full of praise for Ireland but expressed disappointed at his sides performance, saying that the All Blacks simply didn’t show up to Soilder Field.
“The first half really let us down. I really don’t know if we turned up today, they came out and took it to us but we can’t wait to leave a comeback until the last twenty minutes.”
“Ireland played really well, but I am proud of our lads because not many teams in World Rugby could’ve come back into the game like we did today,” Read said after the match.
Poor All Black Performance In Every Aspect
Line out execution was poor from the All Blacks, resulting in far too much lost possession. The All Blacks had just 37% of possession in the first half, but they also gave away seven penalties, nearly all of which resulted in points to Ireland.
All aspects of the All Blacks game was poor, and they found themselves facing their biggest deficit in a long.
Joe Moody didn’t have the best afternoon, sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle. The Irish took full advantage, scoring from a line out drive moments later to reclaim the lead. Ireland scored two tries in the time that Moody was off the field, a total of 14-points.
Moody didn’t learn his lesson, tackling aggressively again and was lucky not to receive a second yellow card that would have ejected him from the game.
An Exciting Brand Of Rugby By Ireland
Ireland played with great spirit and were deserved winners. They didn’t run out gas and played a full 80-minute game that the All Blacks, surprisingly, couldn’t match. The team many called ‘underdogs’ had a firm grip on the match, and it was thanks to their willingness to run right at the All Black defense.
Conor Murray lit up Soilder Field with an individual piece of brilliance. Spotting the smallest gap, Murray stepped his way through, right past Owen Franks and Aaron Smith, to score a breakaway try, the third for Ireland.
Simon Zebo attempted to ensure Ireland wouldn’t let the lead slip, scoring Ireland’s fourth try to extend the lead to 30-8. The try was significant, not only because of the big points advantage, but because it signaled Ireland’s intent to play rugby in the Second Half, and not play to protect the lead.
— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) November 5, 2016
Defensively, Ireland were solid and stopped Julian Savea from getting to the try line in his 50th Test cap. But the All Blacks surged in the Second Half and forced their way back into the match with two quick tries, scored by TJ Perenara and Ben Smith.
The All Blacks had cut Ireland’s lead to just eight-points with little over a quarter of the game to go, but yet another penalty gave Ireland crucial points on the scoreboard. Hansen rang the changes and cleared the All Black bench as his side became desperate to be the next team to score.
Scott Barrett scored for the All Blacks in a famous try on debut, perhaps one of the only positive of the afternoon for the Barrett family. Once again, Scott’s older brother Beauden Barrett was poor with his accuracy on goal.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 5, 2016
High All Black Casualty List Following Loss
The injury count will be high following the game with at least two All Blacks ruled out of the remainder of the tour.
Ryan Crotty went down with a major hamstring tear and was in tears on the sideline. The midfielders’ tour is likely over. The Irish also had a big injury of their own, Jordi Murphy suffered a serious knee injury and had to be stretchered from the field.
It was also a cruel afternoon for George Moala, who had just returned to the All Blacks midfield after injury, only to leave the field late in the game with a suspected broken forearm.
All Black coach Steve Hansen wasn’t impressed with the performance in Chicago but paid full credit, saying the better team won on the day.
“The right side won, Ireland played so well and a big congratulations to them.”
“We [All Blacks] don’t want to use anything as an excuse, but we will go away and reflect on this performance. We were chasing the game and gave away too many penalties, but we need to get ourselves up off the floor,” Hansen told SkySport.
The All Blacks now travel to Rome, where they will take on Italy next weekend.
For the latest updates, be sure to check out Last Word On Rugby.