All Blacks dump Ireland out of the Rugby World Cup, set up semifinal clash with Pumas

14 October 2023 - 23:25
By LIAM DEL CARME at Stade de France
New Zealand's Will Jordan celebrates scoring their third try with teammate Ardie Savea against Ireland.
Image: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes New Zealand's Will Jordan celebrates scoring their third try with teammate Ardie Savea against Ireland.

Ireland's quest for a first ever quarterfinal win at the Rugby World Cup drew another blank when New Zealand stunned them 28-24 in a thoroughly absorbing clash here on Saturday night.

This was a cracking game worthy of all the pre match probe and prose. The hype too perhaps.

If Ireland and South Africa set the benchmark for the best game of the tournament in the pool stages, this one surpassed it.

New Zealand, high on spirit and resolve, stunted Ireland at every corner and again denied the game's top ranked team passage to the last four.

Though both teams at times dazzled in attack both defences were outstanding.

The All Blacks were perhaps marginally better in that department with captain Sam Cane, Shannon Frizzell and Ardie Savea all delivering crunching blows.

Apart from being resolute defenders the All Blacks were crafty troubleshooters too. When met with characteristic grit in the Ireland defence, the All Blacks found a way over it, no more glaringly than when Beauden Barrett collected a ball that bounced and sat up favourably. The All Blacks hit left and their sure handling created space down the left flank with Rieko Ioane and Leicester Fainga'anuku trading passes before the latter touched down.

That handed the All Blacks a 13-point cushion and Ireland were rocked.

Earlier the All Blacks threw the kitchen sink and perhaps the Basin Reserve at Ireland in a passage of sustained attack that eventually yielded a penalty that led to Richie Mo'unga opening the scoring.

An offensive tackle from Cane and a thorough mop up job from Savea near centre field yielded New Zealand their second kickable penalty.

To be fair Ireland had their chances. They eschewed a pot at goal when Johnny Sexton opted to kick for the corner. New Zealand spoiled their line-out ball.

Not too long after New Zealand doubled their lead Ireland went into frenzied attack mode but again New Zealand's resilience in the tackle showed. Their patience in the ruck also bore fruit when in the mismatch of the tournament Brodie Retallick got his clutches on scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park and ripped the ball from him with the All Blacks' tryline only metres away.

Ireland grew stronger. They were making mini breaks. Increasingly the All Blacks fell foul of the law. Eventually the pressure took its toll.

Bundee Aki's try in the 27th minute, though a terrific collective effort in every sense, required the finishing touches of a man that bulges as much physically, as he does in confidence. Aki moved his body like a bison at the Bolshoi as he assuredly evaded the New Zealand defence for Ireland's first try.

Just when it looked as if Ireland were taking a firm grip on proceedings, New Zealand reminded of their potency with ball in hand.

They almost immediately after conceding that try surged up field moving the ball at speed and not to the most obvious potential recipient. It required a high level of precision but they skilfully shifted the point of contact.

In this particular surge they played themselves into a favourable position under Ireland's poles before hitting to the right where Savea stood unchecked. When the ball reached him in the 33rd minute the cover defence could not make up the distance in time. Savea lapped up the moment.

The first half however produced another plot changer before the players could head for a break. Ireland, again stung into action put New Zealand's defence under pressure. Smith's outstretched arm and fingertip touch thwarted the attack but it did invite closer scrutiny from the TMO.

Smith's yellow card proved costly as Gibson-Park scored before the break.

The successful conversion brought Ireland within a point at the break.

The defining moment perhaps arrived in the 53rd minute when the All Blacks off a routine line-out tap saw Mo'unga slide past Josh van der Flier and set course for Ireland's 22. Will Jordan finished in the corner.

Sexton missed what for him should have been a routine penalty in the 59th minute with Ireland eight points adrift.

Van der Flier, the world player of the year was withdrawn from the action in the 60th minute. It was perhaps a sign.

The All Blacks will meet Argentina in the semifinals.


Ireland (17) 24 - Tries: Bundee Aki, Jamison Gibson-Park, a penalty try. Conversions: Johnny Sexton (2). Penalty: Sexton.

New Zealand (18) 28 - Tries: Leicester Fainga'anuku, Ardie Savea, Will Jordan. Conversions: Mo'unga, Jordi Barrett. Penalties: Richie Mo'unga (2), Jordie Barrett.

New Zealand's Will Jordan celebrates scoring their third try with teammate Ardie Savea against Ireland.
Image: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes New Zealand's Will Jordan celebrates scoring their third try with teammate Ardie Savea against Ireland.