Great theatre: All Blacks win

NZ 21-19 Ireland

GREG FORD
Last updated 21:30 16/06/2012
All Blacks v Ireland
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Richie McCaw on the charge.

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Welcome to press.co.nz's coverage of the All Blacks v Ireland test in Christchurch.

FULLTIME. NEW ZEALAND 21-19 IRELAND

What great sporting theatre. Carter kicks a late drop goal, one of only a handful during his long career, to win the match and deny the gutsy Irish.

With a minute to go he had one deflected away and the ABs got a scrum feed and Carter executes the winner. During this drama the All Blacks' coaching box was literally a sauna. Aussie McLean was forced to get a towel and try and wipe the steam from the windows so they could see the climax unfold. 

You have to feel for the Irish. They dominated large tracts of this game and yet the All Blacks come away with an ugly win. That's the hallmark of a world champion team, I guess.

Hope you enjoyed the game as much as I did. Over and out.

Read Greg Ford's rolling updates filed live during the match:

FULLTIME. WOW. WHAT A FINISH. The test is over. ABS 22-19 IRE.

AMAZING: Carter nails a drop kick. ABs 22-19 IRE.

Two minutes to go and the score remains tied 19-all. The All Blacks are down a man yet are going all out for the win.

DRAMA. Dagg is yellow carded for a high and reckless tackle and Ireland's Sexton misses a chance to make them pay with a long range penalty attempt.  19-all. Six minutes remain.

History is in the offing. Ireland's best result against New Zealand is a 10 all draw in 1973. Grizz Wyllie scored a late try in Dublin to save New Zealand from defeat. The stage is set for a dramatic last 10 minutes. The score remain tied at 19-all.

There's something in Ireland's sporting DNA that precludes them from beating the All Blacks. Will it change tonight? Ireland just nailed another penalty. The All Blacks look rattled. The scores are locked at 19-all. 12 minutes remain. This is a classic test.

What did I tell ya. The points keep coming in increments of three. This time Ireland profit. Sexton closes the gap to three. The score is 19-16 to New Zealand. 16 minutes to go. Now a penalty to Ireland.

ABs 19-13 IRE.

The All Blacks relieve some pressure with another Carter penalty. This one could prove crucial. The match has become a tense arm wrestle.

Neither team looks like cutting loose. 20 minutes to go.

Passion. Guts. Commitment. Endeavour. They're all words you'd normally associate with an All Blacks performance. Tonight they belong to Ireland. The All Blacks are hanging on to their slender lead by a thread. 23 minutes remain. NZ 16-13 Ire.

Israel Dagg comes to the rescue with a huge clearing kick after a concerted period of pressure from the Irish. The Guinness will be flowing at the excellent Commodore Hotel on Memorial Avenue tonight where Ireland are staying - that's if they win.

This is a great contest which could go either way. 30 minutes to go. The score is 16-13 to NZ

16-13 to the ABs. Ireland hit back through the boot of Sexton from the restart with a penalty. This test is alive and kicking - literally.

Plenty of action from the hoof. It's that sort of night. Also, another talking point is Sam Cane came on at halftime for No 8 Kieran Read who is presumably injured.

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TRY: The television match official (TMO) confirms Aaron Smith scored his first test try for the All Blacks to give them a 10-14 lead. The halfback darted down the blindside and was shunted over with the help of some friends. Carter nails the conversion.

The All Blacks make the best possible start to the second half. They now lead. 16-10.

The second half begins. All Blacks squad members not involved in tonight's game are sitting immediately in front of me. The sanguine looks on their faces before the game have been replaced with grimaces all round.

Can Ireland break their 100 plus year drought against New Zealand? Remember they have never beaten the All Blacks in a test. They lead by one point. 10-9.

Referee Nigel Owens blows for halftime as Carter misses a long range penalty attempt. The score is 10-9 to Ireland. The All Blacks have been a mixed bag. Their pack is not dominating as they did last week.

Ireland are playing with resolve and passion while Carter and Co. look unsure what to do next.

The break will give them a timely opportunity to reassess their options. They need too. Sexton is getting up fast on the New Zealand attacking threats and stifling them of any room to move. It's simple and highly effective.

10-9: Three well deserved points that time for the All Blacks who decided to keep the ball tight and pick-and-go. They gained some much needed continuity and the reward came when Owens stepped in and gave New Zealand the penalty.

Carter converted from close range. 32 minutes have elapsed. Halftime beckons.

10-6: Carter adds three more for the ABs. Ireland pinged by Owens for another transgression at the breakdown. 29 minutes have elapsed.

The Julian Savea bubble has burst. Three tries last week from the All Blacks wing; this week he looks all at sea. The All Blacks lack cohesion and look extremely rusty on attack.

The only cause for optimism at this juncture is their defence, which has been stoic, as you'd expect. Kiwi fans are waiting patiently for their side to click while the Irish support crew are enjoying their lead knowing it may not last. 28 minutes have elpased.

10-3. The All Blacks open their point scoring account with three points from Dan Carter's trusty boot. Owens pings an Ireland loose-forward for not rolling away from the loose ball at the break down. 21 minutes have elapsed.

10-0. The error rate from both sides is still alarmingly high. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is in his box just behind the press bench. If looks could kill his All Blacks side would be dead.

Referee Nigel Owens (Wales)  just pinged his team again and Sexton (Ireland No 10) nails it. 19 minutes have elapsed

Ireland ahead 7-0. Jonathan Sexton adds the extras for Ireland (conversion). 12 minutes have elapsed. Game on.

TRY. Ireland 5-0. Ireland halfback Conor Murray scores. Fabulous stuff from Ireland. The All Blacks successfully fend off several sweeping attacks by Ireland who won a penalty but elected not to kick for goal, rather kick for touch and attack again. Murray is rewarded when he darts over from close range.

Both sides have made a nervous start. Ireland kicked off and the All Blacks immediately won a penalty. Sonny Bill Williams fumbled with his first touch and then the All Blacks make amends with a rare tighthead from the first scrum.

Both teams start as per announced earlier this week with no late changes. Jamie Heaslip has just run out as the first man from Ireland on the park to mark his 50th test. Stand-by for the national anthems and haka. Kickoff is five minutes away.

Conditions are bitterly cold but dry and calm.

By 8pm the Metservice is reporting the temperature at -0.1 deg and feels like -2 deg.

It is an historic night as the first ever rugby test at this venue (the old Rugby League Park in Addington).

Red zone motivation

The All Blacks may have used a bus ride through the red zone as extra motivation to win their Christchurch comeback test tonight against Ireland.

Captain Richie McCaw said yesterday that the team ''went for a wee drive through the town on the way'' to their final training session at AMI Stadium yesterday afternoon.

The short hop to Addington brought home the scale of the damage wreaked by the Canterbury earthquakes.

Even McCaw and the rest of the All Blacks' Crusaders contingent had their eyebrows raised.

''I think the guys, even myself, hadn't been through there properly,'' he said.

''You realise the significance of what's happened here, and [the ride's] just a wee reminder of that.''

McCaw said ''putting on the All Black jersey should be enough to push some buttons'' for his players, who can clinch the series tonight after their  42-10 first-test win in Auckland.

''We've had a pretty good week's prep and we're pretty keen to take a step up. If [taking the red-zone bus tour] adds to it, it will be great,'' McCaw said.

''There's obviously a bit of significance playing out here after not having a game [in Christchurch] for a couple of years.

''I would hope we'd prepare the same every week, but it will be nice running out here.

''The atmosphere that we've experienced here with the Crusaders so far has been pretty cool ... It'll be nice to have the home fans behind us.

''It's just great, from a Cantabrian's point of view, to have footy here.''

Ireland midfield back Gordon D'arcy agreed.

''With everything that's gone on [with the earthquakes] in the last two years, I think it's probably right we're playing here, regardless if there was no stadium and just a pitch with people standing around watching.''

He said the stadium was intimate and ''it looks like we're going to hear exactly what the crowd are saying''.

The Irish will hear 21,000 voices as the test sold out  this week.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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