July internationals: Ireland claim historic first series win over New Zealand

·4-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

An outstanding first-half performance helped Ireland pick up their first series victory over New Zealand, winning 32-22 in Wellington on Saturday.

This historic triumph on New Zealand soil is a landmark moment for Andy Farrell’s men and they were thoroughly deserving of the result at Sky Stadium.

First-half tries from Josh van der Flier, Hugo Keenan and Robbie Henshaw set them on their way before Rob Herring scored a crucial try on 65 minutes.

For New Zealand there will now be an inquest into how their showings have been so lacklustre, with the pressure mounting on head coach Ian Foster.

The hosts’ tries came via Ardie Savea, Akira Ioane and Will Jordan but a catalogue of errors yet again blighted their game as they now lick their wounds.

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Members of Ireland‘s triumphant squad were pictured in tears at the full-time whistle as they savoured arguably the greatest result in their side’s history.

Captain Johnny Sexton, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Monday, chipped in with 12 points, becoming the second man to surpass 1,000 in a green shirt.

Ireland only won away to New Zealand for the first time last weekend by bouncing back from a 42-19 drubbing in the Auckland opener to triumph 23-12 in Dunedin and set up the decider, with the momentum very much with them going into this fixture.

Head coach Farrell had expressed hope that his side had saved their best performance for the final Test.

The Englishman duly had his wished granted during a phenomenal opening 40 minutes packed with power and intensity before the Irish weathered a second-half storm intensified by the loss of prop Andrew Porter to a yellow card to take the series 2-1.

The outclassed All Blacks deserved credit for not rolling over but the sensational result piles further pressure on under-fire head coach Foster.

Ahead of kick-off, tears flowed during a rousing rendition of the New Zealand anthem before a stunned Sky Stadium was swiftly silenced.

Farrell described having a sniff of series success on Kiwi soil as “like gold dust” and for the third successive Saturday his side were rewarded for a rapid start with an early try.

Buzzing with intent, the Irish flew out of the blocks, culminating in flanker Van der Flier crashing over in the fourth minute to claim his eighth international score.

New Zealand made a total of five personnel changes from their dismal display in Dunedin after blindside flanker Ioane was a late replacement for Scott Barrett but initially showed few signs of improvement and often appeared rudderless.

The below-par hosts eventually gained some meaningful territory and reduced the deficit thanks to Jordie Barrett kicking a straightforward penalty, having squandered an earlier opportunity.

Yet Ireland quickly reasserted authority and took control of the scoreboard with some brilliant, free-flowing rugby.

They crossed for a second time in the 28th minute as Keenan burst clear to touch down wide on the left following a fine pass from James Lowe.

Further fine interplay from Dan Sheehan, Sexton and Bundee Aki then allowed Henshaw to gleefully exploit the All Blacks defence just before the break.

All Blacks lacking ideas

New Zealand were lacking leadership and ideas, while being constantly outwitted.

Ireland had no such issues and influential skipper Sexton coolly converted the second and third tries, either side of landing a long-range penalty, as he joined Ronan O’Gara in reaching four figures.

The panicky hosts were 22-3 behind at the break – their biggest half-time deficit in 119 years of Test rugby.

Foster’s side desperately needed a response and were given a lifeline as Savea powered over inside four minutes of the restart, with Barrett slotting the conversion to kick-start a major momentum shift.

Ireland were soon down to 14 men as prop Porter was sin-binned for head-on-head contact with Brodie Retallick, leaving the Kiwis a little aggrieved after Angus Ta’avao was sent off following a similar incident last weekend.

Recalled back-rower Ioane then easily slipped through the Irish defence to claim his maiden Test try and help bring the hosts to within five points in a frantic period.

Sexton briefly settled Irish nerves with a penalty but agonisingly hit the crossbar with another attempt before being outpaced by the electric Jordan, who zoomed clear for a fine solo score to set up a nervy final 20 minutes.

Ireland desperately needed some stability and gained it five minutes later courtesy of replacement hooker Herring superbly stretching for the line to ultimately extinguish Kiwi hope.

The Irish dug in resolutely in the closing stages as they held on for a milestone result which lays down a marker ahead of next year’s World Cup in France.

READ MORE: Five takeaways from New Zealand v Ireland as Tadhg Beirne heroics helps tourists to historic series win

The article July internationals: Ireland claim historic first series win over New Zealand appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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