Ireland, the top-ranked team in the world, was expected to at least go to the semifinals in their World Cup match against the All Blacks. But Andy Farrell’s team was unable to end their quarterfinal curse. Johnny Sexton, the captain of Ireland, too sees his career come to an end as a result of defeat. At full time, he cut a sad figure as the pain of one final knockout loss set in.
However, thanks to tries from Leicester Fainga’anuku, Ardie Savea, and Will Jordan, New Zealand is still in contention for a fourth championship. On Friday at Stade de France, they will face the Pumas in the semifinals.
Despite having two players receive yellow cards, Aaron Smith and Codie Taylor, Ian Foster’s team. Able to hold their ground and extract retribution after losing the Test series to the Irish at home the year before. It was another thrilling installment of this storied rivalry, and while Ireland fought valiantly. To the bitter end for a game-winning try, it was the New Zealand players who raised their arms in celebration. At the conclusion of a heroic defensive effort that saw the Irish players fall to the ground in despair.
Ireland’s 17-match winning streak and their chances of replicating England’s 2003 squad and winning both the World Cup and the Six Nations Grand Slam are both ended by defeat. The All Blacks, on the other hand, will be extremely confident going into their semi-final matchup against Argentina. Who defeated Wales 29-17 earlier on Saturday in Marseille, capping off an impressive double for the southern hemisphere teams.
All Blacks Take Lead Early
This was easily one of the most eagerly anticipated World Cup knockout games in years. With the pre match atmosphere rivalling the All Blacks’ loss to France in the opening game. And the memorable Irish win over South Africa three weeks ago. The rivalry was stoked by New Zealand’s 2019 quarterfinal victory and Ireland’s series victory on Kiwi soil last year. Unlike in 2019, Ireland was considered the pre-game favourite. They sought to put an end to 36 years of suffering in the quarterfinals.
This was seen as a tantalising chance for New Zealand to restore the mystique and scare factor. The All Blacks jersey had lost in recent years, in addition to exacting revenge on Ireland.
A Close Match
Given the gravity of the situation, both teams displayed anxiety. During the early exchanges, but New Zealand quickly recovered, and penalties from Richie Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett gave them a 6-0 lead. However, Ireland struggled to gain early momentum here, allowing the All Blacks to move further ahead when Beauden Barrett chipped forward, gathered, and Fainga’anuku finished in the corner. Ireland had been devastating in knocking off Scotland the week prior.
With a brilliant finish, Aki, arguably the player of the tournament for Ireland, brought his team back into the game. However, the All Blacks answered only six minutes later when Savea rounded off another sustained spell of pressure from New Zealand by diving over.