New Zealand v Ireland: From Lomu to Chicago
WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT: Ireland and New Zealand have met only once at the World Cup, a game the All Blacks won – but they haven’t had things all their own way in recent years.
The Irish ended a 111-year wait for a victory against New Zealand in 2016 when they turned them over on neutral territory in Chicago, before recording a first-ever home win last year.
Here’s a look back at the history between the two ahead of their quarter-final clash on Saturday.
1995: Lomu bursts onto stage
Ireland and New Zealand met in their first pool game in 1995 in a match where legendary All Black wing Jonah Lomu announced himself on the world rugby stage.
The 18-stone wing with blistering pace was the difference between the two sides, running in two tries and setting up another as the Irish were powerless in the face of his devastating carries.
Ireland were first on the board via a Gary Halpin try but their joy was to be short-lived as Lomu dominated proceedings.
His first score gave the world a taste of what was to come. Receiving the ball out wide with 20 metres to go, he bounced off a tackle by opposite number Richard Wallace as if he wasn’t there.
The second try was a demonstration of his speed rather than his power as he outpaced Wallace to the corner after a clever penalty move.
But his best moment came in a rampaging run from just outside his own 22m line, beating four defenders before finally being brought down by a fifth with the try line at his mercy.
However, Lomu had the presence of mind to pop the ball to flank Josh Kronfeld for one of the greatest tries in Rugby World Cup history, as the All Blacks cruised to a 43-19 win.
Ireland would go on to lose 36-12 to France in the quarter-finals while the All Blacks would continue all the way to the final, famously losing 15-12 in extra time to South Africa in Johannesburg.
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2016: History in Chicago
Ireland had to wait 111 years for a first win against New Zealand and when it finally came, it was on the unusual territory of Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.
The Irish were irresistible in the first half, racing out to an astonishing 25-8 lead at the break, the highlight being a sniping break by scrum-half Conor Murray that split the All Black defence wide open.
Ireland extended their advantage to 30-8 after half-time but the world champions roared back, a Scott Barrett try on debut bringing them back to 33-29 with a quarter of an hour to play.
But Ireland held firm despite waves of All Black pressure and centre Robbie Henshaw crashed over on 74 minutes to seal a historic 40-29 win.
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2018: First home win
Ireland were unable to complete a series victory in 2016, with the All Blacks squaring it 1-1 with a 21-9 win in Dublin.
So it was with a sense of unfinished business that Joe Schmidt’s men welcomed New Zealand back to Dublin in 2018, seeking their first victory over the All Blacks on home turf.
The teams went into the match at one and two in the world rankings and the first half was an arm-wrestle, Johnny Sexton and Beauden Barrett trading penalties and the latter slotting a drop goal as Ireland led 9-6 at half-time.
But Ireland’s pack had New Zealand’s forwards on the back foot for once and the Irish scored a sensational try just after the break, winger Jacob Stockdale chipping and collecting his own kick before racing to the line for a 16-6 lead.
New Zealand threw everything at Ireland and reduced their arrears to 16-9, again through Barrett’s boot, but the Irish were stout in defence and held out on their line, an All Black knock-on after 80 minutes sending the Aviva Stadium into raptures.