Here is how Ireland made history to beat the All Blacks

Here is how Ireland made history to beat the All Blacks

New Zealand 29 Ireland 40

By Simon Lewis, Chicago

Ireland have beaten New Zealand at Chicago's Soldier Field.

At last. Ireland made history at Soldier Field by defeating the All Blacks today and they did it in real style.

World champions New Zealand came out on the wrong end of hammering to end their world record run of 18 consecutive victories but this was all about the Irish.

Outscoring the best sports team in the world by five tries to four, Rory Best's team banished the ghosts of three years ago when they had meekly surrendered a 22-7 half-time lead in a pointless second half in Dublin to go down 24-22 in the 91st minute.

Here is how Ireland made history to beat the All Blacks

This time they had led 25-8 at half-time, 30-8 after 46 minutes only to once again look utterly on the ropes with 15 minutes to go as the All Blacks launched their trademark fightback, three converted tries in 12 minutes closing the deficit to 33-29 to once again sow seeds of doubt in the minds of the majority of this 62,100 crowd in America's midwest.

This time, though, was different. Ireland did not buckle. They did not merely try to hold on to their slender lead and pray to the rugby gods for salvation.

Here is how Ireland made history to beat the All Blacks

This Joe Schmidt-coached team instead carried on taking the game to the world champions.

A Simon Zebo kick ahead causing panic in the backfield, Conor Murray tagging a back-peddling Julian Savea in the New Zealand wing's in-goal area and from the subsequent five-metre scrum, Jamie Heaslip peeling off the base to feed Robbie Henshaw for the winning try, converted by 21-year-old debutant Joey Carbery.

The jinx had been lifted, Carbery even having the luxury of missing a late penalty as Ireland's 40 points were more than enough to see them home and into the annals of their country's sporting history.

And what a place to do it. Three days after the Chicago Cubs exorcised the ghosts of 108 years of baseball misery by winning the World Series, Ireland closed the book on 111 years of rugby pain.

Here is how Ireland made history to beat the All Blacks

At first there was sheer disbelief at the outrageous feat that had just infolded in front of this sell-out crowd but that quickly turned to delirium for the thousands of Irishmen and women who packed this neutral stadium and turned the stands green, the cheers transforming this hallowed sporting arena into another corner of Ireland.

This was no lucky break. New Zealand did not hand this victory on a plate to the Irish. They deserved everything they got, fought for every point and bounced back for each blow they shipped during a rollercoaster Test match of the highest quality, played at a terrific, breakneck tempo.

Here is how Ireland made history to beat the All Blacks

First -half tries from Jordi Murphy, CJ Stander and Conor Murray and another score from Simon Zebo had echoes of that blistering Aviva Stadium opening period in 2013 when Ireland had put themselves in a position to dream but failed to close the deal.

Here is how Ireland made history to beat the All Blacks

This time they would make no such mistake, turning in an 80-minute performance of sustained commitment, courage and skill to roll with the punches as New Zealand hit back with those second-half tries.

Here is how Ireland made history to beat the All Blacks

Yet nothing would break Ireland's resolve on this day of days in their rugby history. To a man, these Irish players turned in performances to be proud of and as a collective they proved there is no-one in this game that they should fear.

Truly a game to live long in the memory.

Here is how Ireland made history to beat the All Blacks


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