Rugby: Ireland stun New Zealand to seal first win over All Blacks

Chicago—Ireland stunned New Zealand 40-29 Saturday to claim a historic first-ever win over the All Blacks and end the world champions’ record-breaking 18-match winning streak.
In a breathtaking upset, Ireland outscored the New Zealanders by five tries to four to seal their first win over the Kiwis in the 29th meeting between the two nations dating to 1905.
The Soldier Field crowd erupted in delight at the whistle, cheering the end of a second century-old sporting hoodoo in the space of a few days after the city’s Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year World Series baseball curse on Wednesday.
The Irish were forced to hold off a ferocious New Zealand fightback in the second half, which saw the All Blacks recover from a 30-8 deficit to go within four points at 33-29. But with the majority of fans in a 62,300 sellout crowd roaring them on, Ireland scored a fifth and final try through blockbusting center Robbie Henshaw, converted by replacement fly-half Joey Carbery, to clinch a famous victory.
“It has been a long time coming and history (has been) made. We’re absolutely ecstatic,” Ireland skipper Rory Best told BT Sport.
“We knew they are a great side. You can see how good a side they are and how much it means to our boys to have won that.
“We just had to go out and attack them.”
It was New Zealand’s first defeat since their loss to Australia in August 2015.
Only last month, the All Blacks had set a world record for consecutive victories with their 18th win in a row.
New Zealand’s preparations for the Test had been thrown into disarray by the absence through injury of first choice locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock. The further absence of second row Luke Romano following a family bereavement had forced them into starting a makeshift pairing of Jerome Kaino and Patrick Tuipulotu.
But New Zealand coach Steve Hansen refused to blame the injury crisis for the loss.
“The right side won,” Hansen said. “The Irish side played very well and congratulations to them.
“We don’t want to use (the injuries) as an excuse. We trained well enough, we prepared well enough we thought. We’re not going to make any excuses about not having the right people.”
Ireland took full advantage to dominate New Zealand at the line-out, launching attack after attack from the setpiece.
Johnny Sexton kicked Ireland ahead with a penalty after only four minutes when French referee Mathieu Raynal whistled the All Blacks for not rolling away at the breakdown.
But New Zealand hit back immediately with the opening try of the game, George Moala finishing off after Waisake Naholo’s electrifying break.
Fly-half Beauden Barrett scuffed his conversion attempt to leave New Zealand’s lead at 5-3.
Ireland were then handed a crucial advantage after All Black prop Joe Moody was sin-binned for a clear tip tackle on Henshaw.
Ireland capitalized to score a try in the corner when Jordi Murphy barreled over from a driving maul. Sexton’s conversion made it 10-5.
Ireland were soon back on the attack. Sexton’s hanging ball to the edge of the 22 was superbly plucked from the air by fullback Rob Kearney and, after working through the phases, C.J. Stander battered over to make it 15-5.—AFP

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