Sun 10 Jul 2022 | 09:17

Muted celebrations for Ireland after historic win

Muted celebrations for Ireland after historic win
Sun 10 Jul 2022 | 09:17
Muted celebrations for Ireland after historic win
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REACTION: Captain Johnny Sexton wants his rejuvenated Ireland team to make more history in the final week of their tour of New Zealand, urging one more composed performance to win the third Test and clinch a series triumph.

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Sexton was encouraged by how his players reacted to Saturday’s emphatic 23-12 win in the second Test in Dunedin, their first defeat of the All Blacks on New Zealand soil which levelled the series 1-1.

Celebrations of their achievement were muted, with Sexton describing the achievement as “very special” before quickly turning his attention to Saturday’s series decider in Wellington on Saturday.

There, he wants the tourists to achieve another first, having never recorded back-to-back wins over New Zealand, even during their current run which comprises four wins from their last seven meetings.

Experienced flyhalf Sexton noted every Irish win has been met by a vehement All Blacks response.

That includes the first Test of the series last week, which the All Blacks won 42-19 in Auckland after spending half a year stewing on a loss to the Irish in Dublin.

“They’re an incredibly proud rugby nation, they’ll come out firing like they did last week,” Sexton said.

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“We’ll need to be prepared for that. They’ll throw something different at us next week but we need to concentrate on ourselves and we’ll focus on what we can do better.

Coach Andy Farrell lauded his team’s composure, particularly a dramatic first half, when New Zealand were shown two yellow cards and a red to replacement prop Angus Ta’avao.

The tourists didn’t depart from a suffocating game plan which starved the hosts of possession and forced them into long periods of defending.

“The most impressive thing is that we learned our lessons from last week, staying in the game, staying calm,” Farrell said.

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“Our mentality never changed. We never got sucked into the allure of [facing] 13 men or 14 men and trying to play from everywhere.

“We kept them pinned down in their territory, played a pressure game and the game control was outstanding.”

Ireland will be without outside centre Garry Ringrose for the third Test following his grisly head collision with Ta’avao, which resulted in the red card.

‘Our own worst enemy’

There was better news for New Zealand, with coach Ian Foster confirming Sam Whitelock was likely to be available, having missed the Dunedin Test with delayed concussion symptoms.

Veteran lock Whitelock was badly missed, with New Zealand’s line-out and scrum edge from the first Test swinging in Ireland’s favour, laying the platform for their dominance.

Foster is demanding better across the board, including a return to the desire that was obvious at Eden Park.

“We didn’t turn up with the same intensity as we did seven days ago,” Foster said.

“We showed character but we’ve got to show it for 80 minutes. We were our own worst enemy in that second half, we’ve got to be better.”

World Rugby’s rankings, which will be released on Monday, may provide another source of motivation for the All Blacks.

They are set to drop to fourth on the updated list, with Ireland climbing to second, sitting behind new leaders France.

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