Ireland

Carter breaks Irish hearts

Sat, 16 Jun 2012 09:36
Richie-mccaw-charges-630
We didn't match them like we wanted to
Quote-end

Dan Carter kicked a last-minute drop-goal to give New Zealand a fortuitous, but thrilling 22-19 win  over Ireland in Christchurch on Saturday.

The Irish, who have never beaten the All Blacks, matches the Kiwis step-for-step and with less than a minute on the clock were level at 19-all - still holding out hope for a second draw (their best result ever against New Zealand) or even an historic win.

However, Carter slotted the drop-goal with second left on the clock to steal another game from the heartbroken Irish.

As All Black captain said, they were "pretty relieved" and very fortunate to escape.

"We made crucial mistakes at times, but still happy with win," McCaw said, adding: "We didn't match it like we wanted to."

The Irish, who have never beaten the All Blacks, matched the Kiwis step-for-step and with less than a minute on the clock were level at 19-all - still holding out hope for a second draw (their best result ever against New Zealand) or even an historic win.

However, Carter slotted the drop-goal with second left on the clock to steal another game from the heartbroken Irish.

You would have to be a New Zealander not to resent this New Zealand victory at Christchurch on a day when heroes were disappointed. The Irish performance was heroic and all the more admirable for being unexpected after their 42-10 drubbing in the first Test.

One could well have expected the All Blacks to have been even better - more chance to prepare, confidence from their star performance at Eden Park and having the chance to play in Christchurch after the earthquake had kept them out for two years - an emotional opportunity.

Before the match, Declan Kidney, Ireland's coach, said: "There was no point in walking around with our heads down because we'd lost a match."

Clearly they had picked themselves up and returned to the fray with heads held high. Not even the bitter disappointment of defeat in the dying seconds of the match should deny them the right to continue to walk with heads held high.

What a turnaround, and it started up front. They beat the All Blacks in the scrums, scrapped with them at the tackles and often got the better of them, and tackled with a will. The result was that these mighty, creative All Blacks did not score a single try in the first half and spent a lot of the second half deprived of possession and defending their own territory.

A dropped goal is such a deflating score. You have done nothing wrong - not missed a tackle or infringed and there is one player of their 15 kicking a dropped goal over your heads, and getting into to that position had been a sadness in itself.

The Irish scrum was dominant, shoving New Zealand at will. An All Black scrum collapsed and was reset and then Ireland wheeled and the All Blacks fell down. The referee penalised Ireland for 'running around', whatever that means.

The penalty gave New Zealand a line-out in Irish territory and a chance to attack. The All Blacks got Dan Carter into a position to drop for goal but Piri Weepu's pass was wild and woolly, and the Irish were up to put pressure on the flyhalf who was obliged to use his right foot. Sean O'Brien tried to charge the ball down. The ball hit his hand and flew wide but dead. That gave New Zealand a five-metre scrum. Richie McCaw charged and then Weepu got a better pass to Carter who kicked the goal with his left foot, leaving just 20 seconds of the match to play in the Christchurch cold which became even colder for the Irish as the mist of disappointment crept into their souls.

It was cold and steam came off the players. It did not rain and the wind was gentle but the field was wet from recent rain. There were some 20 000 spectators in the new, old-fashioned stand, happy that their city could again host the All Blacks.

Jonathan Sexton kicked off. The All Blacks ran and the Irish tackled till Sonny Bill Williams knocked on, but the All Blacks won the Irish scrum. Here we go again, one thought - the All Blacks will run away with it. They attacked with sharp passing till Kieran Read was tackled out at the corner. Ireland survived and then did some attacking of their own. A penalty gave them a five-metre line-out which they mauled to the line. The ball came trickling back and scrumhalf Conor Murray picked it up, dummied, darted inside Tony Woodcock and scored. Sexton converted from far out. 7-0 after 10 minutes.

Never mind. Sit back and watch the All Blacks pile up the points.

But Owen Franks was penalised for being well and truly offside when playing pillar at a tackle and Sexton goaled. 10-0 after 18 minutes.

The All Blacks got on top and Carter goaled three penalties, all for tackle infringements, to make the score 10-9 at the break.

Kieran Read did not come back for the second half, his place taken by Sam Cane who made his Test debut.

The All Blacks kicked off for the second half, won the kick off and went on rapid attack with Sonny Bill Williams close and then, in a carboncopy of Murray's try, Aaron Smith with went right with a weight of forwards behind him, through Andrew Trimble and Rob Kearney to score far out. Carter's conversion put the All Blacks 16-10 ahead after under two minutes of the second half. Was this the opening of the flooodgates?

The rest of the scoring to get the score to 19-all was from penalties - against  Adam Thomson at a tackle, then Mike Ross, who conceded nine points for tackle infringements, Ben Franks at a scrum and Ali Williams at a tackle. Williams then got angry and was marched on 10 metres to make it easier for Sexton to level the scores.

Sexton had a 50-metre kick to get the lead but was short. This was after Kearney had kicked to clear and Israel Dagg leapt, shoulder first, into him, earning Dagg a yellow card.

It was 19-19 with under four minutes to play when the Irish were penalised at a scrum and the consequence of that was the dropped goal that won the match.

Man of the Match: New Zealand won but all the candidates are Irish - Rory Best, Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney, Cian Healy, Dan Tuohy, Sean O'Brien and our choice - Jamie Heaslip at No.8.

Villain of the Match: Israel Dagg for his late, armless tackle on Kearney and the yellow card that resulted when his country needed him.

Moment of the Match: Dan Carter's third drop attempt - the one that went over.

The scorers:

For New Zealand:
Try: A Smith
Con: Carter
Pens: Carter 4
DG: Carter

For Ireland:
Try: Murray
Con: Sexton
Pens: Sexton 4

Yellow card: Israel Dagg (New Zealand, 73 - foul play, should charge on Rob Kearney)

Teams:

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Zac Guildford, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Hikawera Elliot, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Declan Fitzpatrick, 18 Donncha O'Callaghan, 19 Peter O'Mahony, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Simon Zebo.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Pascal Gauzere (France)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)

By Paul Dobson

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