Fortune favours bold Ireland
REACTION: Ireland captain Rory Best revealed that a determination to be bold had paid off after his team ended a century-long losing streak against New Zealand on Saturday.
Ireland erased their hoodoo by scoring the first-ever win in the 111-year history of meetings between the two nations at Soldier Field.
Best said Ireland had learned the lessons of 2013 when they had squandered a 19-0 lead against the Kiwis before suffering an agonising 22-24 loss in Dublin. The veteran hooker admitted Ireland had been forced to react after New Zealand slashed an 8-30 deficit to just four points, 33-29, with around 15 minutes left.
"In 2013, we lost it in the last quarter.
"When they came back to a four-point game the key was to keep attacking them. We just said we have to keep attacking them and that when they started putting us under pressure we didn't start diving into lost causes, that we kept our defensive shape.
"But we wanted to also keep getting the ball back because when we've got the ball in our hands we've shown we can be dangerous. That's what we were trying to do - don't sit back and hope, go out and grab it," Best said.
The key to victory was Ireland's ability to grab scores at pivotal moments, Best said, citing centre Robbie Henshaw's late try which took the Irish 11 points clear.
"There have been a lot of great Irish teams and players that have come close and we just haven't been clinical enough to finish it. The try Robbie got was pivotal," he added.
Ireland's coach, Joe Schmidt, admitted he had been left with flashbacks to 2013 as the All Blacks chipped away at his side's commanding second-half lead.
"At 33-29, you get nervous about that for sure. We scored at the start of the second half and the end of the second half and that was crucial," Schmidt said.
Best, meanwhile, admitted his teammates had been determined to savour their moment of triumph after finally defeating New Zealand. Best led Ireland's players on a lap of Soldier Field following the whistle, soaking up the applause from a large contingent of green-clad fans in the 62,300 crowd.
The victory was even more special given the fact that the All Blacks, back-to-back world champions in 2011 and 2015, had been on a record 18-match winning streak.
"You've got to take a moment whenever you create history. It's a massive mark of respect we have for the All Blacks that it means so much to us because they're such a quality side.
"To break our duck against them given the year they've had is a massive thing for us. We want to make sure that we celebrate that," Best added.