‘No one does heartbreak like Ireland’

How the New Zealand media reacted to yesterday’s pulsating test match against Ireland

New Zealand’s Ryan Crotty crosses the line to score the last try of the game. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

New Zealand’s Ryan Crotty crosses the line to score the last try of the game. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

New Zealand’s media could have been forgiven for having their end of year tour reports in the bag even before kick-off so great were the perceived differences between the two sides that took the pitch at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.

Murray. Best. Kearney the elder – the men in black 19-0 down at a point a minute. Rip it up and start again was the order of the day for the southern hemisphere scribes.

Roll on another 60 minutes and the All Blacks are pounding at the Irish defence, with Ryan Crotty breaking hearts with his late try to tie things on the scoreboard. Second time around Aaron Cruden makes the kick and the perfect year is sealed for the world’s best rugby team.

Nerve
Writing in The New Zealand Herald Patrick McKendry was effusive in his praise of Joe Schmidt’s side, but also for Cruden’s nerve when it mattered and the quality of the All Blacks’ bench.

“Where to start? The Irish would be an appropriate place, for they were inspired and they needed to be to turn more than a century of history on its head,” wrote McKendry.

“The final 24-22 scoreline didn’t seem possible at halftime with the visitors down by 15 points.

“What for days will seem a most unlikely victory given the hole the All Blacks fell into was a credit to Aaron Cruden’s mental strength and, again, the work of the replacements who have shone in the late drama of the past three weeks.

“ A remarkable finish, almost five minutes after time was up. It was so cruel on Ireland, a most unlikely of victories for the All Blacks. A perfect season but not a perfect performance.”

Sympathy
Writing in the same newspaper, Gregor Paul also had plenty of sympathy for Ireland on a barely believable afternoon.

“No one does heartbreak like Ireland. Too cruel. Too cruel. This didn’t really happen, did it? New Zealand, 22-17 down with time up on the clock, won,” Paul’s report starts.

Later on he writes: “But as always fate conspired against Ireland. Never have they been closer. Never have they done more. Never have they so comprehensively outplayed the All Blacks. But here’s the thing . . . 79 minutes isn’t enough against this crew. They didn’t quite shut the door and slam, before they knew it the All Blacks were inside the house and celebrating.”

Marc Hinton of The Press group summed up the All Blacks’ historic victory, writing: “On a gloriously imperfect night for them, they’d achieved perfection.

“It was not the complete performance the All Blacks had been seeking. Nowhere near it. But you had to admire their pluck, courage and execution when it mattered.

“They found a way to win, when they looked gone for all money. They came back from 15 points down at the half to once again break Irish hearts.

“The home team were magnificent. They won most of the battles this afternoon, except the one that counted.”

“Their forwards, led by the mighty Munster man Paul O’Connell, outplayed their vaunted opposites, and the backs, with Conor Murray superb at No 9, tackled themselves to standstill after a dazzling first 40.”

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