November Tests: Ireland clinch epic win over All Blacks

International
by Staff Writer

Six Nations holders Ireland beat world champions New Zealand for the first time at home on Saturday, winning a frenetic contest 16-9 in Dublin.

A converted Jacob Stockdale try -- his 12th in 14 Tests -- proved the difference as the hosts came out on top in the clash between the two top-ranked teams in the world.

For Ireland, who claimed an 11th successive home win, it was their second victory under New Zealander coach Joe Schmidt in four meetings with the All Blacks, having recorded their first-ever in Chicago in 2016.

"We showed real character out there today," said Ireland captain Rory Best.

"The difference to two years ago here in Dublin (a 21-9 loss) is we didn't score any tries. Today we did.

"I am so proud of the boys."

All Blacks skipper Kieran Read said there were no excuses.

"The Irish were too good for us," Read told RTE. "They defended really well."

Ireland and New Zealand played out a brutal game in Dublin. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Irish were pinned back inside their five-metre line early on but produced tackle after tackle -- prop Cian Healy making five in around 90 seconds -- and eventually excellent work by Josh van der Flier won the hosts a penalty to clear.

Ireland then took the game to the All Blacks with New Zealand-born Bundee Aki -- who had sung his adopted country's anthem in Gaelic with great gusto -- prominent in their attacks.

Eventually the pressure told and Read strayed offside, with Johnny Sexton slotting over the penalty to give the home side a 3-0 lead in the 11th minute.

 Ireland had spoken all week about how important it was not to make mistakes, even deep inside All Blacks territory, and they paid the price when Best spilled the ball inside the visitors' 22.

A long kick back upfield by Ben Smith resulted in Rob Kearney ultimately being penalised and Beauden Barrett converted the penalty to level the match.

The Irish, though, had their opponents rattled and forced the Kiwis into infringement after infringement in a desperate effort to keep them out.

One of those led to Sexton's delightful chip over the defence which saw Kearney touch the ball down, but the try was ruled out on review as he lost control of the ball.

However, Sexton kicked the penalty for 6-3 as the game neared the half-hour mark.

Within a minute the visitors were level as Barrett, having waited till his 71st Test to drop his first goal against England last week, landed another.

But it was all Ireland in attack and the All Blacks were so unnerved that referee Wayne Barnes had to warn Read that the next player to incur his ire would be yellow-carded after they committed their seventh offence of the half.

Sexton chose to kick and converted it for a 9-6 half-time lead.

The All Blacks had a golden opportunity to turn the game around five minutes into the second half when Read charged down Stockdale's ambitious chip, but the rangy No 8 knocked on.

The New Zealand scrum were being steam-rollered by the Irish and coach Steve Hansen rang the changes only eight minutes after half-time, removing all of his front row.

Their first job was to stand behind the posts as Stockdale found that if you keep probing, things can come off.

He received the ball from Aki and then chipped, outstripping the defence to collect it before barging over despite Aaron Smith's desperate tackle.

It brought him a mobbing from his team-mates and regular first-choice scrum-half Conor Murray - who has not played all season due to a neck injury - to his feet while watching on from a box in the stadium.

Sexton converted brilliantly for 16-6.

The All Blacks hit their straps at last but time and again the Irish repelled them, with Peter O'Mahony preventing a certain try by getting back to gather Barrett's brilliant grubber kick.

O'Mahony forced another turnover a few minutes later and had his team-mates pumping their fists in the air and the Irish fans launching into song.

Barrett added a penalty to put the visitors a converted try away from a draw, but such was the stoutness of the Irish defence, the world champions came up short.

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RESULT

Ireland 16

Tries: Stockdale

Cons: Sexton 

Pens: Sexton 3

New Zealand 9

Pens: B Barrett 2

Drop: B Barrett

SCOTLAND vs SOUTH AFRICA

Scotland's Sam Skinner reacts to his side's loss to South Africa. Photo: Getty ImagesHandre Pollard plundered 18 points to help South Africa follow up their dramatic late win against France by becoming only the second visiting team in two years to win in Scotland with a 26-20 victory on Saturday.

On the day he collected his 38th cap to pass Butch James as South Africa's second most-capped outside half, Pollard ran in a first-half try and nailed two conversions and three penalties as Rassie Erasmus' Springboks followed New Zealand's Murrayfield success of 12 months ago as only the second away team in 12 matches to triumph on Scottish soil.

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RESULT

Scotland 20

Tries: Horne, Watson

Cons: Laidlaw 2

Pens: Laidlaw 2

South Africa 26

Tries: Kriel, Pollard

Cons: Pollard 2

Pens: Pollard 3, Jantjies

ENGLAND vs JAPAN

Joe Cokanasiga celebrates a try on debut. Photo: Getty ImagesJoe Cokanasiga scored a try on his Test debut as England came from behind to beat 2019 World Cup hosts Japan 35-15 at Twickenham on Saturday.

England were 15-10 down at half-time and a shock looked possible, but they scored 25 unanswered points after the break.

Cokanasiga's try 10 minutes from time and another from Dylan Hartley in the 76th minute were tough on 2019 World Cup hosts Japan.

On a dry day ideal for their favoured, running game, Japan deservedly led at the interval.

England scrum-half Danny Care may have crossed for the first try of the match in just the third minute but Japan's passing, led by their No 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, and handling was far sharper in the opening 40 minutes.

Their enterprising play was rewarded with tries by centre Ryoko Nakamura and captain Michael Leitch.

Meanwhile England again paid the price for repeated indiscipline, with hooker Jamie George sin-binned.

But England, with coach Eddie Jones making use of his bench, recovered to lead thanks to openside flanker Mark Wilson's first Test try and the boot of George Ford, their captain for this match, before powering away in the closing stages.

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RESULT

England 35

Tries: Care, Wilson, Cokanasiga, Hartley

Cons: Ford 3

Pens: Ford 2, Daly

Japan 15

Tries: Nakamura, Leitch

Cons: Tamura

Pens: Tamura

FRANCE vs ARGENTINA

France had plenty of reasons to smile in Paris. Photo: Getty ImagesFrance claimed their first victory in nine months by beating Argentina 28-13 as Teddy Thomas scored twice on Saturday, less than a year from the teams' meeting at next year's World Cup.

Guilhem Guirado also crossed for the home side in Lille as Jacques Brunel's men sealed a much-needed confidence boost as well as a psychological edge ahead of the pool-stage fixture in the sport's showpiece event in Japan in September.

"It feels good, especially with what happened last week (last minute defeat to South Africa). It wasn't easy to bounce back," Guirado said.

"I'm happy and reassured about the spirit within the squad after what the players did. We gave everything in the second half."

Despite a positive start for the Pumas with Ramiro Moyano touching down after less than two minutes, the hosts fought back for a first win since March's Six Nations victory over England.

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RESULT

France 28

Tries: Thomas 2, Guirado

Cons: Serin 2

Pens: Serin 3

Argentina 13

Tries: Moyano

Cons: Sanchez

Pens: Sanchez 2

WALES vs TONGA

Dan Biggar had 17 points of his own in Cardiff. Photo: Getty ImagesDan Biggar guided Wales to their eighth consecutive victory as a much-changed side scored 10 tries in a comprehensive 74-24 thrashing of Tonga on Saturday.

Tonga battered their way back from a 24-3 deficit to draw level early in the second-half at Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

But the floodgates opened as the Welsh, with a host of World Cup hopefuls playing, ran in 50 unanswered points against a flagging defence, Biggar notching up 17 points of his own.

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RESULT

Wales 74

Tries: Williams 3, Penalty, Biggar, Evans, Morgan, Hill, Davies, Patchell

Cons: Biggar 4, Patchell 4

Pens: Biggar 2

Tonga 24

Tries: Vailanu, Mafi, Fifita

Cons: Takulua

Pens: Takulua