Touch of Black magic ruins Ireland’s dream
Last-gasp try ruins chance to make history
Ireland’s fullback Rob Kearney dejected after the game. Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO
Calamity by the Dodder, 108 years and counting. Ireland beat New Zealand all ends up yesterday, they just didn’t stay ahead of them long enough for it to count.
An injury-time try from replacement fullback Ryan Crotty and a retaken conversion from Aaron Cruden were enough to earn a 24-22 win for the All Blacks. The great blind spot of Irish sport remains. That Joe Schmidt’s side were unrecognisable from the one so thoroughly milled by Australia only marginally sweetens the pill. That they would have beaten any other team on any other day feels irrelevant.
This was their best chance, their last chance in the case of Brian O’Driscoll and possibly a few others. And they didn’t get it done.
“To be a minute away from history and have the ball in your hands on their 10-metre line, well it’s devastating,” said Schmidt afterwards. “I guess you sum it up as a step forward but a missed opportunity.
“You don’t get too many opportunities to play the All Blacks and to stop them doing something that’s pretty special. It would have been a feather in our caps to be the ones to knock them over.”
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It was breathless stuff all afternoon. Ireland were 19-0 up by the 17th minute, tries from Conor Murray, Rory Best and Rob Kearney sending the stadium into orbit. They were making the All Blacks look the one thing they never are – a run-of-the-mill team.
Even a Julian Savea try before half-time couldn’t dilute the joy of a giddy Lansdowne as Ireland went in 22-7 ahead. And although New Zealand inched closer with an Ben Franks try 15 minutes from time, it looked for all the world like Ireland were going to close the game out when Johnny Sexton lined up what seemed to be a regulation penalty with just five minutes left.
But after standing over it
for a few seconds longer than he had been standing over his kicks all day, his effort slid wide. Against anyone else, Ireland probably would have got away with it.
But not against New Zealand. Not now. Maybe not ever.