Ireland 24-28 New Zealand- All Blacks break Irish hearts and set up Argentina semi-final

Ireland’s World Cup dream was ended by New Zealand for the second tournament in a row as the All Blacks deservedly beat their rivals in Paris to set up a semi-final against Argentina.

As the world’s top-ranked team, Ireland were fancied to at least reach the semi-finals for the first time but Andy Farrell’s side failed to break their quarter-final curse on another heart-breaking night against the All Blacks in the World Cup.

Defeat also brings the curtain down on the career of Ireland captain Johnny Sexton, who cut a dejected figure at full-time as the agony of one last knockout defeat took over.

New Zealand, however, remain on course for a fourth title as tries by Leicester Fainga’anuku, Ardie Savea and Will Jordan helped them set up a last-four meeting with the Pumas at Stade de France on Friday.

Ireland’s tries came through New Zealand-born players Bundee Aki and Jamison Gibson-Park, and a penalty try, but there was to be no dramatic late comeback despite being roared on by the loud Irish contingent of the 78,845-strong crowd.

New Zealand had two players – Aaron Smith and Codie Taylor – yellow carded but Ian Foster’s side were able to withstand pressure and exact revenge after losing last year’s Test series to the Irish on home soil.

It was another absorbing entry into this great rivalry, and while Ireland pushed for a match-winning try right to the end, it was the New Zealand players with their arms in the air at full-time after a herculean defensive effort as those in green collapsed to the pitch in devastation.

Defeat ends both Ireland’s 17-match winning run and their hopes of emulating England’s 2003 team by winning a Six Nations Grand Slam and World Cup double.

The All Blacks, however, will feel hugely confident heading into a semi-final against Argentina, who beat Wales 29-17 earlier on Saturday in Marseille on a day when the southern hemisphere sides completed an impressive double.

All Blacks start strongly again

With the sense of rivalry built up by New Zealand’s 2019 quarter-final win and Ireland’s series triumph on Kiwi soil last year, this was easily one of the most eagerly anticipated World Cup knockout games in years, 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.

In stark contrast to 2019, Ireland were being talked about as pre-match favourites as they looked to end 36 years of hurt in the quarter-finals.

For New Zealand, this was viewed as a tantalising opportunity to not only get revenge on Ireland, but to re-establish the aura and fear factor that the All Blacks jersey has lost in recent years. They did just that.

In the 2019 quarter-final, the All Blacks roared into a 22-0 half-time lead, and while Ireland’s first-half return was much healthier here, it was the three-time champions who were in control at the break.

Given the magnitude of the occasion, both teams showed nerves during the opening exchanges but it was New Zealand who settled quicker, with Richie Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett penalties putting them 6-0 up.

Ireland were devastating in swatting aside Scotland last week, but struggled to build early momentum here, allowing the All Blacks to pull further clear when Beauden Barrett chipped forward, gathered and Fainga’anuku finished in the corner.

Aki, probably Ireland’s player of the tournament, dragged his team back into it with a superb finish but the All Blacks hit back just six minutes later when Savea capped another period of sustained New Zealand pressure by diving over.

Ardie Savea celebrates towards the All Blacks fans
Savea celebrated his 30th birthday in style with a try and a superb performance

Kesh Awefada

Kesh Awefada

Read Previous


Read Next

Scotland qualify for Euro 2024 finals in Germany thanks to Spain win in Norway