New Zealand 22-32 Ireland: Andy Farrell's side win third Test and secure historic series
Ireland led 22-3 at half-time and withstood a second-half comeback; England also claim series victory in Australia; the day of deciders continues with Springboks vs Wales (SS Action 3.30pm), Argentina vs Scotland (SS Action 7.30pm); all deciding Tests exclusively live on Sky
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 17/07/22 10:21am
Ireland sensationally beat the All Blacks 32-22 in the third Test to win a series in New Zealand for the first time in their history.
The unprecedented result was built through a stunning first-half performance, which saw Andy Farrell's side lead 22-3 at half-time after tries from Josh van der Flier, Hugo Keenan and Robbie Henshaw.
The All Blacks dominated the start of the second half, including a sin-bin period for Andrew Porter, to bring it back to 25-22 with a quarter to play - but Rob Herring's close-range try settled Irish nerves and Johnny Sexton's conversion pressed their advantage back out with a little over 10 minutes to play.
From that point, Ireland controlled the closing stages of the contest and as the clock went red, the tears from Peter O'Mahony on the sidelines highlighted what it meant to become only the third side ever to win a three-Test series in New Zealand.
"It's a very special day because we're playing against the very best in the world. To come down here and do it is very, very special," Sexton said.
"It's clear how much belief we have, and it starts with the main man [Andy Farrell]. He's done an amazing job and it's all credit to him."
Bundee Aki came in for the injured Garry Ringrose as Ireland made just one change to their line-up. Aki linked up with Robbie Henshaw in midfield, while captain Johnny Sexton ran out for his 108th cap which equalled Paul O'Connell's tally for Ireland. Keith Earls named on the bench.
New Zealand had to make late changes with Scott Barrett ruled out. As a result, Akira Ioane came into their back row. Karl Tuinukuafe was also in for Aidan Ross on the bench and Tupou Vaa’i arrived as another replacement. Sam Whitelock had returned to the XV after missing the second Test due to concussion.
Ireland commenced the deciding Test in the best-possible fashion as their pack delivered a powerful rolling maul and Van der Flier dotted down after four minutes.
Sexton hooked the conversion attempt left of the uprights though, something his kicking counterpart Jordie Barrett would do seven minutes later off a penalty.
Barrett reset his radar just after the conclusion of the first quarter to open New Zealand's account. However, with the weight of expectation on them, they remained nervous and ill-disciplined.
New Zealand 22-32 Ireland - Score summary
New Zealand - Tries: Savea (44), Ioane (52), Jordan (61). Cons: Barrett (45, 53). Pens: Barrett (25).
Ireland - Tries: Van der Flier (4), Keenan (28), Henshaw (40), Herring (65). Cons: Sexton (29, 40, 73). Pens: Sexton (35, 56).
Van der Flier was instrumental on the back foot too. His turnover burst a spot of Kiwi confidence and shortly after, speedsters James Lowe and Hugo Keenan launched down the left.
Lowe's pop pass to Keenan was beautifully timed and Sexton's boot added both the conversion and another penalty to march them further on.
Henshaw as the next man to cross for the visitors as they remained totally in control of the contest. Further points from his captain's boots capped off a dream first half and as the tourists led 22-3 at the break.
A 19-point deficit was New Zealand's largest half-time deficit in a Test and the Kiwi reaction came swiftly after the interval.
The home side were led by Ardie Savea, who did his utmost to win the decider on his own. Savea's 44th-minute try got their scoreboard rolling for the hosts, with more to come shortly after.
When Porter was handed a yellow card for a head-on-head contact with Brodie Retallick, New Zealand capitalised on the extra man.
Akira Ioane and Will Jordan added further tries while Porter was off the park, countered by just one Sexton penalty and another bouncing agonisingly off the crossbar.
At 25-22 with a quarter to go, it looked as if New Zealand might complete the most remarkable comeback. Farrell's men remained composed and once back to a full contingent, set about pressing their case further.
Like Ireland's first try of the match, the forwards set a platform to work from, Rob Herring then broke off the maul at exactly the right time and produced a pinpoint one-handed grounding.
Sexton's final conversion extended their lead back to 10 points with 15 minutes to play. From there, they remained composed and calm to get over the line and produce history in Wellington.
Farrell: It won't be done again
Post-match, Farrell told Sky Sports exactly what the result means to his side and how they're framing it ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup in France.
"This is a special group, to come over here and achieve what they've achieved, it won't be done again - especially knowing what we know that's going to happen in the next few years anyway.
"This is probably the toughest thing to do in world rugby," he concluded.
"We came over here with the task in hand and went for it. There's a group of 40 players and a lot of staff, we said it was going to be the start of our World Cup year - I think it's a bit bigger than that."
Meanwhile, captain Sexton hailed his head coach's influence on the team and the way in which Farrell stuck to his beliefs after taking over the squad.
"It's a very special day because we're playing against the best in the world... and to come down here and do it is very, very special.
"It's clear how much belief there is in the team and it starts with the main man [Andy Farrell]. He was brave at the start, he stuck with some older lads and got criticise. He brought in some younger lads and he's just done an amazing job. It's all credit to him."