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Ireland captain Rory Best: New Zealand win just the best feeling in the world

By Jonathan Bradley

An emotional Rory Best is bursting with pride after becoming the first Ireland captain to lead the side to a victory over the mighty All Blacks.

Joe Schmidt's history boys, led by inspirational Ulsterman Best, conquered back-to-back World champions New Zealand 40-29 in Chicago on Saturday.

The All Blacks had beaten Ireland in 27 of 28 fixtures over 111 years of tussles - the other ending in a draw back in 1973 - but on this occasion Ulster hooker Best decided that the tide had to turn.

"You've got to take a moment every time you make history," he said.

"It's quite hard to sit here and talk about what's a massive thing for us.

"It's a massive mark of respect to the All Blacks that beating them means so much to us because they are such a quality side and they've shown it.

"There's been a lot of great teams and great players that have got really close but just haven't been able to finish it."

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Ireland 40 New Zealand 29: A perfect day for a humble group of warriors 

Best added: "When they came back to a four-point game, we had the wherewithal to keep attacking them, that was great.

"We're a tight group, we're very well coached and that showed."

County Armagh man Best was part of the side that had their dreams of victory dashed in the final minute three years ago when the teams last met.

But it was a wholly different tale in Chicago's Soldier Field as Ireland scored five tries on the way to the famous victory.

The pre-match tribute to Munster legend Anthony Foley - the players formed a figure of eight when facing New Zealand's Haka before kick-off - suggested that Ireland were being carried along on a wave of emotion.

"I think it was something that we just talked about through the management to the players," said Best of the touching tribute to Foley.

"I think a lot's been made of the really sad news that Munster got a few weeks ago and this was the national team's first time together since his passing.

"So we felt that it was the right thing to do and then to put the Munster boys to the front.

"It just felt like the right thing to do and it was our way, as an Irish national team, just to show a mark of respect to Axel (Foley) and his family."

The history-making heroes jet back into Dublin in the early hours of this morning with three more games remaining in their November series.

What is expected to be a second string side will take on Canada in the Aviva Stadium this Saturday before another clash with the All Blacks a week later and a visit from Australia to round out the month.

Flanker Jordi Murphy looks set for an extended spell on the sidelines with a knee ligament problem, while New Zealand's Ryan Crotty tore his hamstring and centre George Moala suffered a serious elbow injury.

All three are unlikely to feature in the second game between the sides.

Belfast Telegraph

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