Carter’s last-minute drop goal breaks Irish hearts
Daniel Carter broke Ireland’s hearts when he slotted home an 80th-minute drop goal to give New Zealand a tense 22-19 victory over the tourists in Christchurch on Saturday, wrapping up their three-match series with a game to spare.
Ireland had never beaten the All Blacks in their 25 previous encounters with a 10-10 draw in 1973 the closest they came in the 107 years they have been playing tests and Saturday’s match at a chilly Rugby League Park was there for the taking.
The tourists lived up to their promise of being more aggressive in contact than they were last week in Auckland when they lost 42-10 and spent the first 20 minutes smashing into tackles at the breakdown.
They dominated the opening quarter and the decision to opt for a lineout in the corner instead of taking a kickable penalty shot at 0-0 paid off when scrumhalf Conor Murray sniped around the blindside of a ruck and touched down for his first test try.
Jonathan Sexton converted to give the visitors a 7-0 lead, which they built on eight minutes later after another sustained period of pressure allowed the flyhalf to punish an illegal block at the ruck by Owen Franks with his first penalty.
The 10-0 scoreline seemed to spark the All Blacks into action and as they built phases and dominated territory, the visitors gave away silly penalties, three of which Carter slotted between the posts to bring the All Blacks back to 10-9.
The All Blacks warmed the shivering crowd of 21000 when they began the second half with renewed vigour, hammering at the Irish and holding the ball for several phases for Aaron Smith to get driven over in the corner for his first test try.
Carter converted to give the home side their first lead of the game at 16-10, though that was quickly reduced when Sexton slotted his second penalty after the All Blacks had turned the ball over from the kickoff.
Carter and Sexton then traded penalties and with 15 minutes remaining, the game was either side’s for the taking.
Sexton equalised with his fourth penalty and had an opportunity to give Ireland the lead when Israel Dagg was sinbinned for a late charge on Rob Kearney with eight minutes remaining, though the Leinster flyhalf’s long-distance attempt fell short.
The All Blacks, however, managed to get down field one last time and after a series of sustained attacks, the ball was tossed out to Carter, who lined up the drop goal from the pocket to preserve New Zealand’s unbeaten record against Ireland.
New Zealand — Tries: Aaron Smith; Conversions: Daniel Carter; Penalties: Carter (4); Drop goal: Carter
Ireland — Tries: Conor Murray; Conversions: Jonathan Sexton; Penalties: Sexton (4)