All Blacks gain revenge on Ireland with 21-9 Dublin win
DUBLIN (AP) — New Zealand held off a fierce Ireland fightback to win 21-9 on Saturday two weeks after the Irish ended the All Blacks' record 18-match win streak.
The rugby test in front of 51,000 roaring fans at sold-out Lansdowne Road was played at a ferocious pace as collisions forced out Irish starters Robbie Henshaw, Jonathan Sexton and CJ Stander with first-half injuries. Henshaw had to be immobilized and stretchered off.
The visitors, determined to exact revenge for Ireland's 40-29 triumph on Nov. 5 in Chicago, its first victory over the All Blacks in 111 years, stifled Irish scoring opportunities with bruising defense, last-ditch turnovers, and frequent disruptive fouls.
Ireland scored five tries in Chicago, but none at home.
The All Blacks overwhelmed Ireland at the start, taking a 7-0 lead after just three minutes as flyhalf Beauden Barrett's cross-field kick found an open Malakai Fekitoa on the left wing just outside Ireland's five-meter line. The center sidestepped scrumhalf Conor Murray and lunged across for the opening try.
Barrett, named this week as world player of the year, kicked the conversion and doubled New Zealand's lead in the 24th by running straight through a gap in the Irish defense for an easy try between the posts.
The Irish in reply could muster only two first-half penalties, one each by Sexton and his replacement Paddy Jackson, despite forcing New Zealand down to 14 men after scrumhalf Aaron Smith was sin-binned. New Zealand committed seven first-half penalties to Ireland's one but led 14-6.
Ireland attacked with aggression in the second half and kept New Zealand pinned within its own half for lengthy stretches, but repeatedly spilled the ball as it neared the All Blacks' tryline.
Fekitoa was sin-binned for a high tackle on Simon Zebo, but Ireland could parlay that advantage only into another Jackson penalty that narrowed the score to 14-9.
The All Blacks struck the killer blow soon after Fekitoa returned from the bin to complete a counterattack with his second converted try in the 66th.