Christchurch - Daniel Carter broke Ireland's hearts
when he slotted home an 80th-minute drop goal to give New Zealand a
tense 22-19 victory over the tourists in Christchurch on Saturday,
wrapping up their three-match series with a game to spare.
Ireland had never beaten the All Blacks in their 25 previous encounters
with a 10-10 draw in 1973 the closest they came in the 107 years they
have been playing tests and Saturday's match at a chilly Rugby League
Park was there for the taking.
The tourists lived up to their
promise of being more aggressive in contact than they were last week in
Auckland when they lost 42-10 and spent the first 20 minutes smashing
into tackles at the breakdown.
They dominated the opening
quarter and the decision to opt for a lineout in the corner instead of
taking a kickable penalty shot at 0-0 paid off when scrumhalf Conor
Murray sniped around the blindside of a ruck and touched down for his
first Test try.
Jonathan Sexton converted to give the visitors a
7-0 lead, which they built on eight minutes later after another
sustained period of pressure allowed the flyhalf to punish an illegal
block at the ruck by Owen Franks with his first penalty.
10-0 scoreline seemed to spark the All Blacks into action and as they
built phases and dominated territory, the visitors gave away silly
penalties, three of which Carter slotted between the posts to bring the
All Blacks back to 10-9.
The All Blacks warmed the shivering
crowd of 21 000 when they began the second half with renewed vigour,
hammering at the Irish and holding the ball for several phases for Aaron
Smith to get driven over in the corner for his first test try.
Carter converted to give the home side their first lead of the game at
16-10, though that was quickly reduced when Sexton slotted his second
penalty after the All Blacks had turned the ball over from the kickoff.
Carter and Sexton then traded penalties and with 15 minutes remaining, the game was either side's for the taking.
Sexton equalised with his fourth penalty and had an opportunity to give
Ireland the lead when Israel Dagg was sinbinned for a late charge on
Rob Kearney with eight minutes remaining, though the Leinster flyhalf's
long-distance attempt fell short.
The All Blacks, however,
managed to get down field one last time and after a series of sustained
attacks, the ball was tossed out to Carter, who lined up the drop goal
from the pocket to preserve New Zealand's unbeaten record against
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Zac Guildford, 13 Conrad Smith,
12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith,
8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Sam
Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony
Woodcock Substitutes: 16 Hikawera Elliott, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith
Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy,
11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip,
7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3
Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy
Substitutes: 16 Sean Cronin,
17 Declan Fitzpatrick, 18 Donncha O'Callaghan, 19 Peter O'Mahony, 20
Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Simon Zebo.