Sun 14 Nov 2021 | 09:21

'We kept pounding away and we got our rewards'

'We kept pounding away and we got our rewards'
Sun 14 Nov 2021 | 09:21
'We kept pounding away and we got our rewards'
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REACTION: Ireland have become mentally stronger under Andy Farrell as they showed in putting behind them missed chances in the first-half to go on and deservedly beat New Zealand 29-20, said a “very, very proud” Irish captain Johnny Sexton.

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The Irish, roared on by a fired-up capacity crowd at Lansdowne Road for the first time since February last year, dominated the first half but through handling errors, and a try that was ruled out, went in 5-10 down at the break.

“We weren’t clinical in the first half but then, fair play,” said Sexton.

“This team has worked a hell of a lot on our mental side of the game so to bounce back and come again was testament to the management and leadership group and the players themselves to come back and be clinical in the second half.

“Because previously, we would have said ‘Ah, we didn’t take our chances’ and we would have… not given up but we would have put the heads down a bit.

“But we kept pounding away and we got our rewards.”

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said he thought it was the best performance by an Irish side he had seen.

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Foster was Steve Hansen’s assistant when the Irish also beat them in 2016 and 2018 – the only previous two occasions an Ireland side had beaten New Zealand prior to Saturday.

Farrell said Foster had told him that as well after the gripping match.

“He was kind enough to say those words to me, which I really appreciated,” said Farrell.

“Look, we said it last week, you need to be at your best and you probably need a little bit of luck as well against the best side in the world.

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“I don’t think we needed a lot of luck because we were at our best probably… the pleasing thing is we can be better.”

‘Saw it differently’

Farrell has silenced the doubters from earlier in the year when Ireland lost to Wales and France in their first two Six Nations matches.

The 46-year-old Englishman’s side will take a seven-Test winning run into their final match of the year next Sunday against Argentina, so often the bogey team for the Irish at the World Cup.

“The toughest thing in sport, certainly at the top level, is being consistent,” he said.

“They’ve [the All Blacks] been at the top for so long and everyone sees it as an opportunity to play against the best team in the world and test themselves.

“Time and time again, they keep coming up with the goods so the test for us has been, it’s what we’ve been talking about in the last couple of years, it’s consistency of performance.

“There’s been a few good ones and we need to back that up performance with a good one next week.”

Sexton, who came off in the second-half due to a knee problem, said no one should read too much into the long-term consequence of the victory.

“The great thing about beating New Zealand is that it gives a lift to the country but you don’t win a trophy and you don’t have something to show for it, as such,” said Sexton.

“As happy as we are, we need to push on.”

Foster queried the call made by the Television Match Official in ruling out Akira Ioane’s try which if converted would have given his side a 24-23 lead.

“I certainly saw it differently but that is life,” said Foster. “Clearly really, really marginal.”

The 56-year-old said the Irish thoroughly deserved their victory.

“I was really impressed by their high tempo game, it kept us chasing and at the end when it really mattered we did not have the composure to take the chances,” he said. “So congratulations to them.”

PV: 29
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