They might not be the world champions any more but the All Blacks are still the benchmark for most sides in the game. That status has been long earned over the decades and will take as long again to dissipate, if it ever does.
The first half is the perfect example of Irish intensity and physicality. It’s just a pity it wasn’t converted into more points. Ireland hammered the All Black line repeatedly but just couldn’t add to James Lowe’s excellent opener. New Zealand’s goal line defence in the first half was of the highest standard and while Ireland’s breakdown accuracy left something to be desired, only a very good side could live the pressure and New Zealand are, believe it or not, a VERY good side.
They proved that late in the half when they caught Ireland snoozing at a lineout. The sucker punch. The arm you didn’t see coming. That sent the All Blacks in at the half with the lead by the skin of their teeth.
If Ireland’s start to the first half was intense, it had nothing on the start to the second. Ireland were all over New Zealand like a cheap suit and finally managed to put away the opportunities to take a 10 point lead with 50 odd minutes gone.
New Zealand came back – they always do. They got it within three points but Ireland stuck at it, they kept pressing and crept ahead through the nerveless boot of Joey Carbery.
The clock ticked on. The tension crept up. New Zealand threatened but Tadhg Beirne had other ideas. The Munster man did what he does – win a breakdown turnover – and Joey Carbery did the rest.
As deserved an Irish win as we’ve seen for some time. Outstanding. Unplayable at times. This was something special.
1 Andrew Porter – More top-class physicality. Playing 70 odd minutes of this game at this level is remarkable. 8/10
2 Ronan Kelleher – Playing like the best hooker in the world at the moment. Outstanding. 9/10.
3 Tadhg Furlong – More power, more physicality, more unnatural skills with the ball in hand. The best tighthead in the world. 8/10.
4 Iain Henderson – Superb physicality from the Ulster captain, most of it in the dark crevices of the game. 7/10.
5 James Ryan – Back to something closer to his level. A good player playing back to the level we know he’s capable of. More to go, but encouraging. 8/10.
6 Caelan Doris – He backed up his outstanding performance last week with a supreme display here on both sides of the ball. 10/10.
7 Josh Van der Flier – He seemed to be everywhere to the point you’d wonder how many Josh Van Der Flier’s there actually were out there. 8/10
8 Jack Conan – A really solid display from a guy truly coming into his own as a test player. 8/10.
9 Jamison Gibson-Park – Excellent zip and pace on the ball. A large part of Ireland’s tempo game and a massive factor in this game. 9/10.
10 Johnny Sexton – More top quality work from a player who keeps proving his credentials as one of the very best of all time. 9/10.
11 James Lowe – This is what James Lowe can do. A try, some superb carrying and quite good defence when called upon. Hide the weaknesses, play the strengths and you have a top quality operator. 8/10.
12 Bundee Aki – A display of beautiful brutality. 8/10.
13 Garry Ringrose – The best I’ve seen from Ringrose in a green jersey or, indeed, any other colour shirt. 9/10.
14 Andrew Conway – Busy, aggressive and very solid. 7/10.
15 Hugo Keenan – The very definition of cool, calm and collected. 7/10.
Replacements: Outstanding effort with Carbery and O’Mahony prominent. Tadhg Beirne’s jackal turnover was a game winner. 9/10
NEW ZEALAND RATINGS
1 Joe Moody – Unable to influence the scrum in any meaningful way. Outstanding defence. 6/10.
2 Codie Taylor – Took his try really well, and showed up strongly in defence but yellow carded too. 6/10.
3 Nepo Laulala – Didn’t impact physically in attack but, like the rest of his pack, showed up well in impact defence. 6/10.
4 Brodie Retallick – Never managed to impac