There are very few words that can truly express exactly what sort of a match this was, but to quote an age-old cliché …it was rugby at its best. Ireland displayed teamwork and heart in its purest form, whilst the All Blacks played rugby at stratospheric levels achieved only by those at the very top of their craft.
Irish fans flooded toward the Stade de France in their thousands, accompanied by good times, drink, and sheer excitement for the 80 minutes of rugby heaven. It was to be Ireland’s opportunity to finally escape the jeers and taunts surrounding their inability to make it past a quarter-final.
The stage was set for an almighty clash, and that’s exactly what the fans got. The stadium was littered with black shirts in amongst the sea of green, with each and every fan jittering on the spot with nerves.
Matching the nervous energy from the stands, the players started erratically with Aaron Smith flinging his first two passes wildly past the intended recipient. His erratic start was matched by both Jordie Barrett and Richie Mo’unga who found their own kicks going AWOL.
Their nerves did not last long, however, as their first attack saw a 30 phase passage rewarded with an easily kickable penalty for Mo’unga. The All Blacks continued their impressive start as they took an early and comprehensive lead through the boot and shortly after an impressive try in the corner.
Ireland found themselves chasing the game as the match progressed, with the men and green never letting the All Blacks get too far ahead. An incredible game culminated in a 40 phase attack from Ireland as they banged on an All Black door sealed shut.
The players on either side sank to their knees as New Zealand won their final defensive penalty to secure the victory, signaling an end to the illustrious Johnny Sexton’s career.
The match finished Ireland 24 – 28 New Zealand.
Watch the highlights here.