Shortly after the full-time whistle blew, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” blared at Forsyth Barr Stadium. For 46 years, Ireland have tried and failed to scale one of rugby’s greatest mountains. The pain that has lingered all these years finally eased as Andy Farrell’s men went where no Irish team had gone before.
o the classic by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell was over before the 28,191 spectators chanted “Ole, Ole Ole” from the large Irish contingent.
On the pitch, the Irish players took it all in and rallied in front of their fans, who couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed. Nobody wanted to go.
But amidst the cheering scenes, there was a noticeable calmness in the team. They hailed their remarkable performance of becoming the first Irish team to beat the All Blacks on Kiwi soil on 14 tries, but it was clear their attention was already focused on next weekend’s series decider. Chicago, Dublin, Dunedin. If Ireland can add Wellington to their hit list, they will make even more history.
All week, Ireland’s players and coaches expressed their belief that last weekend’s result did not reflect the closeness between the two sides. Her answer was emphatic. Under the roof things were fast, hectic and chaotic for long stretches. But Ireland never lost faith that this was her moment.
“At the beginning of the year my main goal was to get into an Irish team that went to New Zealand and I thought we came here in a great place, to win a game, to win a series,” Nutte said Dan Sheehan.
“I thought we were in a good place to win five games. Of course that makes it interesting for next week. I think we can go one step further. Not just winning a game, winning a series down here would be special. I think we can probably celebrate a series win.”
New Zealand has not lost a Test series at home since 1994. However, as Farrell put it, “There are things that are going to happen in the future that we’re talking about. Someone is going to do something soon, or it might be further down the line. It might as well be your time. It might as well be in your career.”
Ireland produced the goods. From Caelan Doris’ tackle on Jordie Barrett, to Peter O’Mahony’s 50-22 kick, to Robbie Henshaw’s stunning tackle on Richie Mo’unga, Ireland were relentless in their shot into history.
Jaco Peyper was the center of attention and while Leicester Fainga’anuku would have seen red in any other country, South African referee Angus Ta’avao at least gave his marching orders for a high strike against Garry Ringrose, which ruled the Irish center out of the decider .
Desperate to make a physical mark, the All Blacks were overly aggressive in their approach and paid the ultimate price for their poor discipline when Ta’avao was sent off while Fainga’anuku and Ofa Tu’ungafasi both spent 10 minutes in the Ton, along with James Ryan.
Ireland cleaned up their set piece and were more accurate as Andrew Porter set up the platform in both halves, masterfully orchestrated by Johnny Sexton.
“No Irish team has won here before and it’s very special for me to be part of a team that will go down in history,” added Sheehan.
“We talked about when we come here we want to win a series and we can’t get through now. We definitely have the game to beat them next week and yes they were down to 14 men but if we do things right we will win next week.”
This optimism pervaded the team immediately afterwards, as a series win is within reach.
Farrell was quick to caution, however, as in each of the previous three wins against the All Blacks Ireland have lost the subsequent game to the Kiwis.
“Well, they always have an answer, don’t they, these guys,” Farrell added. “That’s what history tells you. We’ve gotten used to it now. We look forward to that. Look we made a bit of history for ourselves little old Ireland we earned the right to take it to last weekend didn’t we to see what we can do in the last week.
For so long it was considered impossible to beat the All Blacks in their own backyard. But having reached Everest, Ireland’s goals now have something bigger in their sights.
Goalscorers – New Zealand: B Barrett, Jordan both try; J Barrett con. Ireland: Porter 2 tries; Sexton 3 pins, 2 cons.
New Zealand: J Barrett; S Reece, R Ioane, Q Tupaea, L Fainga’anuku (W Jordan 49); B Barrett (R Mo’unga 57), A Smith (F Fakatava 62); G Bower (A Ross 64), C Taylor (S Taukei’aho, 57), O Tu’ungafasi; B. Retallick (P. Tuipulotu 43-55), S. Barrett (P. Tuipulotu 73); D Papalii (A Ta’avao 25-30) (PG Sowakula 68), S Cane (Captain), A Savea (A Ross, 33-35).
Ireland: H Keenan; M Hansen, G Ringrose (B Aki 30), R Henshaw, J Lowe; J Sexton (Captain) (J Carbery 73), J Gibson Park (C Murray 68); A Porter (C Healy 65), D Sheehan (R Herring 64), T Furlong (F Bealham 65); T Beirne, J Ryan (K Treadwell 68); P O’Mahony (Doris 75), J van der Flier, C Doris (J Conan 64).
Referee: J Peyper (South Africa).
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/international-rugby/thoughts-turn-to-series-win-for-buoyant-ireland-41828023.html Thoughts revolve around the series victory for lively Ireland