Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Ireland 40 New Zealand 29: Proud Rory Best delighted with Irish heroes

Ireland 40 New Zealand 29

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 07/11/2016

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Jonny Sexton and Simon Zebo of Ireland celebrate following their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Rory Best of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Dejected New Zealand players look on following their team's 40-29 defeat during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Dejected New Zealand players look on following their team's 40-29 defeat during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Dejected New Zealand players look on following their team's 40-29 defeat during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Joe Schmidt the head coach of Ireland congratulates his players following their 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Jack McGrath of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Simon Zebo (L) of Ireland celebrates with teammate Jonny Sexton after scoring his team's fourth try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Simon Zebo (L) of Ireland celebrates with teammate Jonny Sexton after scoring his team's fourth try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Ireland's Devin Toner, back, and Jack McGrath, right, defend against New Zealand's Ben Smith, center, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Kieran Reid of New Zealand looks on during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip, right, defends against New Zealand's Ben Smith, left, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's Robbie Henshaw, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring against New Zealand during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's CJ Stander, center, is tackled by New Zealand's Malakai Fekitoa, left, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's CJ Stander celebrates after a rugby match against New Zealand, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's Robbie Henshaw, right, scores past New Zealand's Sam Cane, left, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's Joey Carbery, right, celebrates with Josh van der Flier, left, after a rugby match against New Zealand, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's supporters cheer on their team during the second half of a rugby match against New Zealand, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Debut cap Scott Barrett of New Zealand touches down to score his team's third try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand hands off CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand hands off CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand wins lineout ball under pressure from CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand wins lineout ball under pressure from CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: CJ Stander of Ireland wins lineout ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of New Zealand spills a high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland is snagged by Dane Coles of New Zealand during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland hands off Dane Coles of New Zealand during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland players celebrate their 40-29 victory as the final whistle blows during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Donnacha Ryan (L) of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Liam Squire of the New Zealand All Blacks is tackled during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: A New Zealand fan cheers on her team fan during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: An Ireland fan is apprehended by security as he attempts to celebrate with Jamie Heaslip of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
The All Blacks perform the haka during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image was created as an Equirectangular Panorama. Import image into a panoramic player to create an interactive 360 degree view.) The teams line up for the anthems during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of New Zealand spills a high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Kieran Reid of New Zealand looks on during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand claims a ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand claims a ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Referee Mathieu Raynal of France speaks with Kieran Reid of New Zealand during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Joe Moody of New Zealand is hauled down by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Aaron Cruden of New Zealand is tackled by Conor Murray of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Joe Moody of New Zealand is hauled down by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Referee Mathieu Raynal of France officiates during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks takes the ball in the lineout during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Owen Franks of the New Zealand All Blacks is tackled by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Owen Franks of the New Zealand All Blacks is tackled by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks spills the high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks spills the high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks takes a catch during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: George Moala of the New Zealand All Blacks is injured during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland is smothered by players after scoring a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks heads for a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks heads for a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks heads for a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ryan Crotty of the New Zealand All Blacks leaves the field injured during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks scores a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Simon Zebo of Ireland takes a catch during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks scores a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

There must have been something in the Chicago air.

Ireland arrived in the city to the euphoria of a Cubs World Series celebration that was 108 years in the making last week and, almost unfathomably, by Saturday night had ended an even longer sporting drought in Soldier Field.

When the star-crossed baseball franchise from the north side of the Windy City won their previous title in 1908, Ireland had already had three years to ruminate on a first loss to the mighty All Blacks.

Twenty-seven further Irish squads would try and fail to exact revenge, few ever coming closer than the side of 2013 who had their hearts broken by a stunning comeback in the final passage of play.

Looking throughout like they had been counting down the days until this opportunity to make amends, Ireland blitzed the World champions for five tries and, when the fightback attempt inevitably arrived, this time they had the fortitude to see it off.

Ulsterman Rory Best, adding a maiden victory over New Zealand to a captaincy record that already boasted a first win on South African soil, radiated pride after the final whistle.

"It's history made and we're absolutely ecstatic," Best beamed.

"We knew they were a great side, and you could see how good they are, but we knew we just had to go out and attack them.

"It's been a long time coming. You can see how good a side they are and how much it means to our boys."

From casual indifference to fiery aggression, or even the tossing of a blade of grass into the air, there has been endless debate through the years over the best way to face down New Zealand's traditional pre-match Haka.

In Chicago, Ireland produced a poignant response, forming a figure of eight in memory of former Ireland international and Munster head coach Anthony Foley, who died at the age of 42 last month.

"It was something that we talked about through the management to the players," said Best.

"We felt that it was the right thing to do and then to put the Munster boys at the front of that, for them to lead that number eight, it just felt like the right thing to do and it was our way as an Irish national team to show a mark of respect to Axel and his family."

Foley, whose father Brendan was in the Munster line-up of 1978, the only previous senior men's team from this island to beat the All Blacks, had four of his former charges in the starting side and it is perhaps no coincidence that all were fantastic.

The aggression of Donnacha Ryan, strength of the tireless CJ Stander and verve of Simon Zebo were exemplary.

Conor Murray, however, was the star performer, producing a display that was not only his best for Ireland, but the best that anyone has conjured for the side in some time.

Leinster's Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip rolled back the years, while Robbie Henshaw was also outstanding. Best's fellow Ulstermen Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne came up with big defensive contributions.

Matches between these two sides have tended towards two distinct patterns. Either the favourites have established and built upon an early lead, or Ireland have surged ahead only to be reeled in and ultimately surpassed.

While the ending was very different, at stages it seemed as if Saturday was adopting characteristics of both.

First, there was the quick-fire try from Steve Hansen's winners of 18 Tests in a row

Johnny Sexton had already kicked Ireland into a three-point lead when, with only five minutes on the clock, George Moala took advantage of what turned out to be rare defensive miscues to scamper home.

Jordi Murphy, later lost to what appears to be knee ligament damage, quickly responded after Joe Moody had been binned for a tip tackle on Henshaw.

Ireland made the most of the numerical advantage, scoring a second try during the 10-minute period when Stander muscled over from close range.

Sexton and Beauden Barrett traded penalties but when Murray scored, just as he had done in 2013, Ireland took an even greater lead into the turn than they had that Dublin day three years ago.

Zebo added a fourth with the first score after the restart following more good work from the maul but then the expected New Zealand response arrived.

TJ Perenara, on for the ineffectual Aaron Smith, was first to score, with Ben Smith and Scott Barrett following suit to reduce the deficit to a mere four points.

Just when history seemed to be repeating itself, it was Henshaw who burst through to ensure that this time would be different.

What had seemed so improbable, even occasionally impossible, had happened.

Afterwards, Joe Schmidt joked that it may be time to relax his ban on alcohol for the flight home. Once they land, neither he nor his squad will ever have to buy a pint again.

Ireland: R Kearney; A Trimble, J Payne, R Henshaw, S Zebo; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, T Furlong; D Toner, D Ryan; CJ Stander, J Murphy, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin (for Best, 71), C Healy (for McGrath, 62), F Bealham (for Furlong, 57), U Dillane (for Ryan, 65), J van der Flier (for Murphy, 26), K Marmion, J Carbery (for Sexton, 60), G Ringrose.

New Zealand: B Smith; W Naholo, G Moala, R Crotty, J Savea; B Barrett, A Smith; J Moody, D Coles, O Franks; P Tuipulotu, J Kaino; L Squire, S Cane, K Read (capt).

Replacements: C Taylor (for Moala, 71) O Tu'ungafasi (for Moody, 63), C Faumuina, S Barrett (for Tuipulotu, 46) A Savea (for Read, 60), TJ Perenara (for Smith,46), A Cruden (for Naholo, 63), M Fekitoa (for Crotty, 26)

Referee: Mathieu Raynal

Man of the match: Conor Murray

Match Rating: 9/10

Belfast Telegraph

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph