Heartbreak as All Blacks end Irish Rugby World Cup hopes

It was not to be for Andy Farrell’s Ireland on Saturday night in Paris, with a marginal 28-24 loss to a strong New Zealand side.  

Coming into the game off the back of an incredible 17 match winning streak, many believed that this was going to be Ireland’s night, however following a tight 80-minute contest between both sides, it was the All Blacks who came out victorious and will progress to the semi-final stages of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. 

From the offset, it became clear that this would be a game of fine margins, discipline and big decisions for both sides after Ireland conceded two early penalties – which were converted by Richie Mo’unga and Jordi Barrett, respectively. 

It only took the All Blacks 19 minutes to get themselves over the try line to widen the gap between themselves and the Irish, with Beauden Barrett perfectly executing a chip and chase to scramble Ireland’s defence which was brilliantly finished into the corner by Leicester Fainga’anuku.  

Ireland responded well, getting their first points on the board with a penalty on goal which was taken excellently by Irish talisman, Johnny Sexton to make the game 13-3. 

This was almost immediately followed up by an exceptional individual effort by then current top try scorer of the tournament, Bundi Aki as he managed to dummy step his way past four New Zealand defenders to finish the try off, which was then converted by Sexton to make it a 3-point game.  

This close margin was again widened by the undying All Blacks, when birthday boy Ardie Savea found himself in acres of space to score a brilliant try into the corner of the Irish try line.  

Shortly after, the New Zealand scrum half would find himself sent to the sin bin by referee Wayne Barnes for a deliberate knock on. 

Ireland made immediate use of their extra man, with Irish scrum half Jamison Gibson-Park capitalising from a small opening of space after a strong maul by the Irish pack, and following Sexton’s conversion, both sides entered the changing rooms with a point difference between them for half-time, with the game still very much all to play for.  

New Zealand came out all guns blazing for the second half, making a break from the line out through Richie Mo’unga, with him off loading it to the rapid Will Jordan to get over the line.  

Once again, the fighting Irish came back at the All Blacks with a brilliantly won line out from Tadgh Beirne and formed a maul that was trembling toward the New Zealand try line before being pulled down by Codie Taylor – which gave Ireland a penalty try, and with Taylor being sent to the sin bin.  

Unfortunately for the boys in green, having the additional man was not capitalised on this time around, and following Jordi Barrett’s penalty on goal, time was running out for Ireland.  

Ireland came back at New Zealand for one final push to get over the try line to keep their World Cup dreams alive. With an admirable display of character and composure, going through 37 phases of play, the ball was turned over by All Blacks veteran Sam Whitelock to put Ireland’s hopes to bed.  

It was heartbreak for the Irish, and ecstacy for New Zealand as they progress to the semi-finals and will face Argentina, with England facing off against the reigning World Cup champions South Africa.  

Ireland now bids farewell to captain Johnny Sexton as he is now retired from both international and club rugby following an illustrious and long career.  

IRELAND: Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton (Captain), Jamison Gibson-Park, Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris. 

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Joe McCarthy, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Jimmy O’Brien.

NEW ZEALAND: Beauden Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Ethan de Groot, Codie Taylor, Tyrel Lomax, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane (Captain), Ardie Savea. 

Replacements: Dane Coles, Tamaiti Williams, Fletcher Newell, Samuel Whitelock, Dalton Papali’i, Finlay Christie, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown. 

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