Ireland 23 

Ireland made history in Dunedin on Saturday as they defeated the All Blacks for the first time on New Zealand soil with a commanding performance against an ill-disciplined home side at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Two tries from prop Andrew Porter and perfect night from the kicking tee for captain Johnny Sexton who added 13 points did the damage as New Zealand’s composure dissolved in the first half as wing Leicester Fainga’anuku and prop Ofa Tu’ungafasa were yellow-carded but worst was to follow when replacement prop Angus Ta’avo was sent off on the half hour for a head on head challenge on Garry Ringrose.

The All Black stayed in the fight and Beauden Barrett scored a try just before half-time as James Ryan was also sent to the sin bin to close the gap to 10-7 heading into the second half. Yet Ireland deserved this victory, their fourth over New Zealand in seven matches since 2016, and kept their composure to dominated proceeding throughout to level the series at 1-1 and take it to a deciding final Test in Wellington next Saturday morning.

Just as they had in the first Test seven days earlier at Eden Park, Ireland engineered the perfect start, their high-tempo and lightning-quick ruck ball once again providing momentum the All Blacks could not deal with. Tadhg Beirne broke upfield from halfway and though he went into contact when Robbie Henshaw was keeping pace on his outside shoulder, Ireland were in the opposition 22 and were not to be stopped. Mack Hansen, who had replaced Keith Earls in the only change from the first Test, made a further inroad on the right wing before Ireland turned back inside towards the posts, gaining a penalty advantage on the way but it was not needed. Beirne made another incursion before captain Johnny Sexton supplied an excellent short pass for Andrew Porter, whose carry through two defenders got his side over the line for the opening score inside three minutes.

It was an excellent opening from the tourists and when Sexton added the conversion and then a penalty on 13 minutes, Ireland had a deserved 10-0 lead.

Whereas the initiative was lost in Auckland as the Irish compounded error on error to allow the All Blacks back into the game in the second quarter, this time it was the home side that lost their heads. First,  Leicester Fainga’anuku was yellow-carded for a shoulder to head contact on his opposite number Hansen and then prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi was sin-binned by Jaco Peyper for taking out Garry Ringrose off the ball. New Zealand were down to 13 for two minutes as the sin-binnings overlapped and it got worse when replacement Angus Ta’avo saw red on the half hour. Ringrose was again the victim, this time of a head on head clash and had to be replaced by Bundee Aki for a Head Injury Assessment but Ireland were firmly on the front foot and with the All Blacks needing two front-row replacements, the pack lost two back-rowers to in Dalton Papalii and Ardie Savea as the home side was forced to send on debutant hooker Aidan Ross to make up the numbers.

It meant an uncontested scrum for Ireland in the left corner on 33 minutes with fly-half Beauden Barrett at No.8 and just four New Zealand backs behind the scrum defending their tryline. It was a prime opportunity to hammer home their numerical advantage but it was lost as James Lowe knocked on.

Confusion reigned as Tu’ungafasi returned and the reverse substitutions were made and the All Blacks returned both Papalii and Savea to the field, erroneously restoring them to a full complement of 15 players. Peyper restored order eventually, sending Savea permanently to the sideline as he had been the player replaced by the red-card Ta’avo but New Zealand had restored enough composure to start applying some pressure of their own as the game edged towards half-time and when Irish lock James Ryan was yellow carded for killing the ball in front of his posts, the game was a 14 v 14 contest and it was the visitors desperately defending their line. When the ball broke loose from a ruck and bounced in front of Beauden Barrett, it was the fly-half who reacted quickest to score under the posts, his brother Jordie converting to end the half with a lifeline for the home side at 7-10.

Ringrose did not return from his HIA but Ireland again started the second-half strongly and regained the initiative with more high-tempo phase play with Porter again the player to cross the line from short range. It was a vital score, Sexton’s conversion returning Ireland’s lead to 10 points at 17-7 on 48 minutes and then to 13 points with the captain’s penalty seven minutes later.

Ireland were firmly in control but still remained vigilant to All Black threats, no more so than Tadhg Beirne, whose tap tackle on halfway stopped a breaking Jordie Barrett from creating havoc. New Zealand continued in possession but when prop George Bowers broke toward the Irish 22, Ireland won the decision at the following ruck and escaped with a pressure-relieving penalty on 61 minutes as the benches began to empty. All Blacks head coach Ian Foster rolled the dice and replaced Beauden Barrett with Richie Mo’unga at fly-half and then threw on scrum-half Folau Fakatava for fellow Highlander Aaron Smith for a Test debut on his home ground but his side’s discipline continued to undermine them and when Sevu Reece was penalised at a breakdown in the 67th minute, Sexton’s third penalty of the night from his fifth successful kick out of five pushed Ireland into a 23-7 lead as the game moved into the final quarter.

The Irish still had work to do, and managed to hold the All Blacks up over the line three times to frustrate the home side just as they had done to the tourists so effectively in the series opener. They could not prevent replacement wing Will Jordan claiming a try in the right corner two minutes from time though the conversion attempt sailed wide. The score was too late to save the All Blacks as Ireland levelled the series at 1-1 with this history-making victory.

NEW ZEALAND: J Barrett; S Reece, R Ioane, Q Tupaea, L Fainga’anuku (W Jordan, 48); B Barrett (R Mo’unga, 56), A Smith (F Fakatava, 61); G Bower (S Taukei’aho, 56), C Taylor (A Ross, 56), O Tu’ungafasi; B Retallick (P Tuipulotu, 48-55 HIA), S Barrett (P Tuipulotu, 73) ; D Papalii (A Ta’avao, 25-35 – YC rep; P G Sowakula, 68), S Cane – captain, A Savea (A Ross, 25-35 – YC rep, Savea w/d on 35).

Yellow cards: Fainga’anuku 17-27, Tu’ungafasi 25-35 Red card: Ta’avo 30 

IRELAND: H Keenan; M Hansen, G Ringrose (B Aki, 30 – HIA), R Henshaw, J Lowe; J Sexton – captain (J Carbery, 74), J Gibson-Park (C Murray, 68); A Porter (C Healy, 64), D Sheehan (R Herring, 63), T Furlong (F Bealham, 64); T Beirne, J Ryan (K Treadwell, 68); P O’Mahony (C Doris 76 – HIA), J van der Flier, C Doris (J Conan, 63).

Yellow card: Ryan 39-49 

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa) 

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