This weekend’s clash in the final round of the Autumn Internationals will be the 28th meeting between Ireland & New Zealand.
In eager anticipation of the world champions coming to Dublin, let’s look back at some of the titanic bouts between these two heavyweights in recent years and how Ireland have never been able to take the illustrious All Black scalp.
10th June 2006: New Zealand 34 – Ireland 23
Ireland put up a hard fought performance and almost clinched victory but as usual, this fight only lasted 70 minutes and in the last ten minutes New Zealand ran away with it leaving Ireland gasping for air.
Ireland showed their maturity after conceding an early try to Muliaina before coming back with a superbly worked try to send O’Driscoll in under the posts. Irelands Munster dominated pack led the way giving the All Blacks slow ball and little to work with. Ireland clawed their way into the lead with a trademark penalty from O’Gara and a try for new boy Trimble.
It was 24-23 to New Zealand with ten minutes to go, Ireland broke free from their own half and ran half the length of the pitch with slick passing and quick feet; it seemed a certain try but instinctive play from McAllister sent Ireland to their knees with a tidy intercept to stop the attack.
No longer than thirty seconds later, Nonu saw space and darted through a tired Irish defence to set up a try for substitute Troy Flavell to seal the victory for the men in black.
20th November 2010: Ireland 18 – New Zealand 38
Although Ireland were seen off by an unstoppable New Zealand side, it was one of the most spirited performances I’ve ever seen from an Irish side who’s relentless defence and determined attack led to an incredible spectacle.
In the end it was New Zealand’s scrum power and consistent support play that took down a dogged Irish outfit. Ireland made a promising start with a clinical finish from Ferris to give the boys in green the lead but their hard work in defence was diminished by a lapse in concentration as Boric crashed over just before half time.
The second half was what every rugby fan wants to see, quick free flowing rugby and lots of tries. There was nothing that could stop Keiran Reid gliding over on 45 minutes after a slick offload from blindside flanker Kaino. New Zealand added another from subsititute lock Whitlock after Ireland couldn’t keep up with the pace and width displayed by the All Blacks. Ireland showed great determination and came back into the game with an incredible pick up from O’Driscoll who powered over from short distance to give Ireland some hope.
But after Earls try was disallowed, New Zealand closed out the game with a second try from Reid which topped off an incredible performance and a trademark display from the All Blacks.
16th June 2012: New Zealand 22 – Ireland 19
Definitely Ireland’s best chance of a victory over the All Blacks came just last year on a cold, wet day in Christchurch.
After a 42-10 crushing defeat in the first test, no one in Ireland (or New Zealand!) expected such a fiery performance from the men in green as they shocked a clumsy New Zealand into a dogged game right until the final whistle.
A duck and dive from Conor Murray handed Ireland the first try on ten minutes. It was down to Sexton and Carter to battle it out on a bad day for rugby, both slotting kicks from difficult positions in the first half. But Ireland were hit with a blow just after half time as the New Zealand pack drove over Aaron Smith, who seemed to be wrapped up by the Irish defence, over for a significant try.
It became a sloppy game for the last half hour but Dan Carter showed his experience and composure to carry New Zealand to a 19-19 score line with just seconds remaining. He was called upon once more when a ball was flung back to him on 80 minutes and he calmly fired it over the bar to send a crushing knockout punch to Ireland who had put every ounce of energy into the game.
Other close calls:
30th May 1992: New Zealand 24 – Ireland 21
20th January 1973: Ireland 10 – New Zealand 10
7th December 1963: Ireland 5 – New Zealand 6