Ruthless New Zealand clatter Ireland in Tokyo on their way to another semi-final
Played – 32
New Zealand wins –29
Ireland wins – 2
Did you know?
- Ireland have never made it past the quarter-finals at the Rugby World Cup.
- Ireland got their first win against New Zealand in Chicago, in November 2016. Ireland won 40-29.
- New Zealand had won a World Cup record 17 successive matches until their pool match against Italy was cancelled and went into the record books as a scoreless draw.
- The All Blacks need 41 points to become the first team in World Cup history to reach 2,500 in the competition.
- Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton start together for the 56th time, breaking the all-time record of 55 for Ireland, set by Peter Stringer and Ronan O’Gara – the current duo first played together in Ireland’s opening game of the Rugby World Cup 2011, against the USA. The Irish front row also start together for the 17th time.
In a nutshell
After being gifted a 22-point lead and a steady stream of possession, New Zealand never looked back. The weight of history brought the night falling around Ireland as their World Cup ended again at the quarter-final stage.
More than that, thought, it is the end of Joe Schmidt’s reign as boss.
There have been undeniable highlights during their association, with three Six Nations titles and a Grand Slam, as well as two wins – the first ever wins – over the All Blacks. But they couldn’t lay a glove on their fabled opponents in Tokyo.
New Zealand played with direction, pace, and certainty of purpose.
Their first try was a product of hard, rout-one carries. Joe Moody, Sam Whitelock and Sam Cane tied in defenders with their hit-ups before Aaron Smith – spotting that no guard had come to stand near the ruck – bolted over for the first try.
He was at the double after a sweeping move from set piece. Wing Sevu Reece passed to Jack Goodhue, got it back on the wrap-around and shot the pass to George Bridge on the wing after drawing the defence. After the surged upfield, Jacob Stockdale came off his spot to compete for the ball illegally. Smith saw the vacancy in the corner and burrowed over.
Ireland continued to sock away. Peter O’Mahony stole a lineout and snaffled a turnover. Conor Murray kept up the rhythm and the front-five wanted the ball. But the All Blacks were ruthless and feasted on errors.
Sexton had a penalty kick to the corner that Mo’unga jumped to keep in, for example. And then the fly-half was caught out in attack. Later, Reece came off his wing to hit the Leinster star, dislodging the ball in the hit. Mo’unga fly-hacked it ahead and Beauden Barrett raced away to get a third score.
Pressure kept telling for the All Blacks and the fourth came again from relentless carries with the arm, but when Smith hit Read, the talismanic No 8 popped the ball up from his back and hooker Codie Taylor crashed over, under the posts.
It didn’t let up. Reece tore away from a Beauden Barrett crossfield kick and after cutting in field, sub scrum-half TJ Perenara could hit Matt Todd at first receiver and he pummeled his way to the line.
The Irish fans were afforded the opportunity to give one of the teams true servants a standing ovation as retiring captain Rory Best took his leave on the 63rd minute, alongside Sexton. It is a day he will want to banish from his memory, but his was a career to be proud of.
In his absence Ireland worked forward and after a Joey Carbery grubber was dropped over the line by Robbie Henshaw, the centre made amends a few phases later as he sliced through for a first Irish try, with the clock nearing 70.
It all got busy in the final minutes.
Ardie Savea stole a ball straight out of the ruck, fed a darting Dane Coles and he put through George Brisdge for a try. Then Ireland scuttled up the other end and worked infiled until Todd gave away a penalty try for throwing his body between CJ Stander and the base of the post – no tackle was attempted.
New Zealand got the last word with Beauden slinging a long, looping, left-to-right pass to brother Jordie for the seventh try.
Anton Lienert-Brown in not underrated or overrated. He is rated. He is custom built for this All Blacks back line.
Sevu Reece had so many blockbuster moments, Smith’s zip of delivery and quickness of thought around the fringes was frightening and Kieran Read was colossal. But players are needed to tie all of this together. Lienert-Brown is capable of brilliance, for sure – he can dance through, as he showed in the 71st minutes – but it is how he communicates, stitches passes together and assuredly makes his tackles that sees him picked out among his peers.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen: “Both the defence and the attack were good. ‘Stormy’ (assistant coach Scott McLeod) has done a wonderful job this year and got them going well (in defence) and Fozzie (assistant coach Ian Foster) has got the attack going really, really good, and is coaching probably the best I’ve ever seen him coach.”
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt: “I don’t have an excuse or a reason for it. You can’t afford to give the All Blacks points. It was a bit flat, on the back of having a few niggles. We were not sure of the team until Thursday. I thought we needed to get off to a good start and if we didn’t we would be a bit vulnerable.
“Before the third try we had really good space but we didn’t quite put things together, we spilled that and the All Blacks scored. You have to make them work for everything. In the past we had forced them to do that even when we lost against them.
“Then we were chasing the game and if you are chasing the game against the All Blacks you are going to give them opportunities and that is exactly what we did.”
New Zealand: Beauden Barrett; Sevu Reece (Jordie Barrett 62), Jack Goodhue (Sonny Bill Williams 53), Anton Lienert-Brown, George Bridge; Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith (TJ Perenara 60); Joe Moody (Ofa Tuungafasi 48), Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala (Angus Ta’avao 48), Brodie Retallick (Matt Todd 57), Sam Whitelock, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (Scott Barrett 40), Kieran Reid.
Tries: Aaron Smith 13, 20, B Barrett, 32, Taylor 48, Todd 60, Bridge 73. Con: Mo’unga 14, 21, 49, 74. Pen: Mo’unga 6.
Ireland: Rob Kearney (Jordan Larmour 53); Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose (Jordan Larmour 5), Robbie Henshaw (Jordan Larmour 23), Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton (Joey Carbery 63), Conor Murray ( Luke McGrath 73); Cian Healy (Dave Kilcoyne 49), Rory Best (Niall Scannell 63), Tadhg Furlong (Andrew Porter 60), Iain Henderson (Tadhg Beirne 49), James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony (Rhys Ruddock 57), Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander.
Tries: Henshaw 69, Penalty Try 76. Con: Carbery 69.
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