Ireland 22-24 New Zealand: Ryan Crotty's last-gasp try sinks Ireland's chance of historic victory over All Blacks
New Zealand become first side in the professional era to have 100 per cent record in a calendar year after beating Ireland in Dublin
Published 24/11/2013 | 16:18
Aaron Cruden's second attempt at an overtime conversion put an end to Ireland's best-ever chance of a first victory over New Zealand, and made professional-era history for the All Blacks as they recorded a 24-22 win.
Ryan Crotty's last-gasp try locked the scores at 22-22 with the conversion to come and Chiefs fly-half Cruden fluffed it the first attempt, only to be handed a dramatic reprieve.
Ireland flew off their line before Cruden had started his run-up, referee Nigel Owens ordered a retake: and the Kiwi playmaker delivered to spoil an otherwise-impressive Irish performance.
Ireland blitzed a stunned New Zealand with three tries in 17 minutes; Conor Murray, Rory Best and Rob Kearney crossing in a superlative opening salvo.
But the world champions refused to buckle, wing Julian Savea and prop Ben Franks notching tries to turn the tide.
Leading by just five points, Ireland attempted to play out the clock in the final minute - only to concede a cheap ruck penalty.
New Zealand launched a trademark quick-flash attack, and after fine work from Kieran Read, Ma'a Nonu and Cruden, Crotty sneaked into the left corner to shatter Irish dreams of a first victory over the All Blacks at the 28th attempt.
Ireland had led the All Blacks 21-7 after 43 minutes in Dublin in 2001: New Zealand won 40-29 that day in Dublin.
Agonisingly that pattern was repeated, and now Brian O'Driscoll will never beat the All Blacks.
Paul O'Connell labelled this Ireland's best-ever chance to beat New Zealand in mid-week, and so it proved.
The thunderclap of three first-quarter tries shook the All Blacks to their very core.
The grit so lacking from Ireland in 32-15 Australia defeat last week was immediately clear from the off.
A stub-grubber from O'Driscoll forced New Zealand into a knock on in their own 22.
Dave Kearney cut in off his wing, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien punched tight-drive holes - and half-back Murray pounced to open the scoring.
Leinster's bullocking prop Healy then bust the line again, sending hooker Best through the gap.
O'Brien followed suit to find Murray, and Ireland were scenting the whitewash again - more quick ball allowed Best to dummy a pass and wriggle home for the home side's second try.
Try-scorer Best was forced to trudge off with a shoulder injury with less than 15 minutes on the clock though, Sean Cronin joining the fray in his stead.
Dogged Ireland sustained the pressure though, and when Israel Dagg failed to hold Cruden's pass, Kearney pounced.
None of the New Zealand cover could catch the full-back, who raced clear to register his eighth international score.
Fly-half Aaron Cruden's clever cross-field chip set wing Savea free, and the arch finisher cut home for his third try in two weeks.
Undeterred, Ireland pressed on again, and quickly set camp in the All Blacks' 22.
Sexton then slotted a penalty after New Zealand turned in at the scrum, to extend the home lead to 22-7 at the break.
New Zealand built consistent pressure after half-time, taking a scrum from a kickable penalty - but Tommy Bowe intercepted Ma'a Nonu's pass to allow brief respite.
Cruden sent a second goal-worthy penalty to the corner for a line-out, only for Devin Toner to produce a first-class steal at the tail.
New Zealand wrapped up Ireland's ruck though, winning a scrum in the home 22.
Savea came in off his wing to pinch the Irish defence, before full-back Dagg hurtled across the tryline.
English Television Match Official Graham Hughes was called to adjudicate by Welsh referee Nigel Owens.
And Hughes chalked it off, much to the visitors' surprise.
New Zealand came again from their five-metre scrum, Murray stripped Ben Smith to give Ireland the steal - only for Toner to be penalised for obstruction.
Cruden slotted the goal to cut Ireland's lead to 12, before O'Driscoll was withdrawn through injury, replaced by Luke Fitzgerald.
The Kiwi out-half failed with another penalty strike minutes later though.
Read's mistimed tackle took Kearney out in mid-air, gifting Ireland a penalty and chance to clear from their own 22.
Sexton's weak clearance and Bowe's missed tackle on Savea handed the initiative straight back to New Zealand though.
Quick hands from Read, a half-break from Ben Smith and New Zealand were within whitewash range again - and a bloodied Ben Franks barrelled over for the All Blacks' second converted try.
Ireland's lead cut to five paltry points, New Zealand's stubborn will set up a fraught finale.
Ireland launched another strong maul, forcing a penalty deep in the Kiwis' 22.
Sexton could not extend Ireland's lead to eight though, striking wide of the right-hand post.
New Zealand inevitably pressed again, but Nonu's loose knock on and Cruden's ill-judged chip let Ireland off the hook.
Ireland failed to drive tight phases to the conclusion, conceding a soft ruck penalty.
New Zealand launched one final attack, Read, Ben Smith and Nonu prevalent: before Ryan Crotty nipped home in the left corner.
TMO Hughes was brought into play to make the ruling, and after several minutes' discussion the try was awarded.
Cruden failed with the conversion attempt - but Ireland raced off their line before the fly-half started his run-up.
Referee Owens gave the All Blacks stand-off another chance for the extra points.
He made no mistake second time around, notching New Zealand's place in history, but breaking Irish hearts in the process.
Sean O'Brien rues All Blacks comeback
Sean O'Brien admitted his bitter disappointment after Ireland suffered a heroic added-time defeat to New Zealand in Dublin.
The All Blacks came back from 19 points down to claim a 24-22 victory thanks to a last-gasp try from Ryan Crotty and a twice-taken conversion from Aaron Cruden.
It was a cruel conclusion to a magnificent performance by the Irish, whose long wait for a first win over New Zealand continued.
O'Brien said on BBC2: "We are not happy losing the game like that. We started so well and got such a lead, not finishing them off, we have to have a long, hard look at ourselves and see where we can improve.
"They have that belief, that's what we have to get to.
"I think there was a little bit of trust needed in the last couple of minutes. It's just really, really disappointing. We have to assess (what happened) next time we get into camp together."
All Blacks wrap up perfect year
New Zealand have become the first side in the professional era to have a 100 per cent record at the end of a calendar year after coming from behind to beat Ireland in the most dramatic of circumstances in Dublin on Sunday.
The All Blacks' last-gasp 24-22 victory - secured courtesy of a twice-taken conversion in the final action of the match - ensured the world champions will end 2013 with a perfect record of 14 wins from 14 matches.
Here Nick Purewal reviews the All Blacks' victories in 2013.
New Zealand 23 France 13 (Auckland, June 8): Despite tries from scrum-half Aaron Smith and flanker Sam Cane, it was New Zealand's gritty defence that sealed their first win of the season.
New Zealand 30 France 0 (Auckland, June 15): Steve Hansen's men hit their stride with three unanswered tries, brushing aside Philippe Saint-Andre's stunned France team.
New Zealand 24 France 9 (New Plymouth, June 22): Ben Smith and Beauden Barrett notched the scores that completed the Kiwis' clean-sweep series victory.
Australia 29 New Zealand 47 (Sydney, August 17): Irresistible New Zealand hit the Wallabies with six tries, and in their own back yard to boot.
New Zealand 27 Australia 16 (Wellington, August 24): Debutant Tom Taylor's four-penalty haul guided New Zealand to retaining the Bledisloe Cup.
New Zealand 28 Argentina 13 (Hamilton, September 7): Back-rower Kieran Read conjured two try assists in an indomitable performance to break a stern Argentine resistance.
New Zealand 29 South Africa 15 (Auckland, September 14): A bonus-point victory over the potent Springboks sent a global warning the All Blacks were in no mood to ease their world domination.
Argentina 15 New Zealand 33 (La Plata, September 29): Four unanswered tries in Argentina underpinned a balanced All Blacks performance, as stingy in defence as they were brutal in attack.
South Africa 27 New Zealand 38 (Johannesburg, October 6): The world watched in awe as the globe's two dominant forces traded stunning try for stunning try. Bryan Habana's peerless early brace had the hosts in charge, but the lightning wing then limped out with a torn hamstring. Somehow New Zealand edged home five tries to four in a true all-time classic.
New Zealand 41 Australia 33 (Dunedin, October 19): Stubborn New Zealand equalled their startling record of 30-straight home victories. Not a bad milestone to notch before heading off on the Northern Hemisphere tour.
Japan 6 New Zealand 54 (Tokyo, November 2): Eight tries with no reply summed up the gulf in class between emerging nation Japan and the unruffled All Black titans.
France 19 New Zealand 26 (Paris, November 10): Despite boasting a world-record 853 caps, the All Blacks so nearly conceded their 100 per cent record. Charles Piutau's sublime defence-drawing flick-pass sent Kieran Read home for the match-saving try.
England 22 New Zealand 30 (London, November 17): Just when England thought they could repeat the heroics of their 38-18 triumph over the All Blacks of last autumn, up popped Ma'a Nonu. The wrecking-ball centre's defence-shredding offload sent Julian Savea home to seal win number 13.
Ireland 22 New Zealand 24 (Dublin, November 24): New Zealand so nearly fell at the final hurdle in their quest for a place in the record books as Ireland surged into a 22-7 lead at the break. However, in typical style the All Blacks roared back, Ryan Crotty's last-gasp try levelling the scores before Aaron Cruden's twice-taken conversion secured the extra points and victory.