DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP) — Prop Andrew Porter scored a try in each half as Ireland posted its first-ever win over the All Blacks in New Zealand, taking the second test 23-12 on Saturday to level the three-match series.
New Zealand’s hopes plunged under a first-half flurry of cards.
South African referee Jaco Peyper dished out a red card and three yellows in a first spell which twice saw the All Blacks reduced to 13 men.
All Blacks replacement prop Angus Ta’avao was shown a red card in the 30th minute for a head-on-head collision with Ireland center Garry Ringrose. New Zealand’s Leicester Fainga’anuku and Ofa Tuungafasi and Ireland’s James Ryan also received yellow cards.
“I’m delighted,” Ireland captain Johnny Sexton said. “We produced some great stuff at the start, especially when it was 15 against 15. The game was disrupted a bit and I think we missed some moments. But I’m unbelievably happy to come here and win.
“No Ireland team has ever done it before and it’s all on the line next week.”
The All Blacks somehow managed to hold on under almost constant pressure in a first half in which Ireland had more than 70% of territory to trail only 10-7 at the break.
Both teams started the second half with 14 men and Porter’s second try, which rewarded a magnificent effort by the Ireland tight five, put an end to New Zealand’s chances. The All Blacks slumped to their fourth loss to Ireland in the last seven tests between the teams.
New Zealand won the first test 42-19, weathering pressure from Ireland in the first 20 minutes before running away to a six-tries-to-two victory.
On Saturday Ireland’s pressure was relentless and the All Blacks had no answer, falling behind to Porter’s first try in the third minute and never having the lead. New Zealand won only a minimal share of possession and always under the weight of a stifling defense which forced them into handling errors and lapses of discipline.
There wasn’t a moment in the second test when the All Blacks were on top and barely any when they were able to match the energy and commitment of the Irish.
New Zealand’s only try of the first half came entirely against the run of play and almost by accident when the ball squirted from a ruck under the Irish posts and struck the boot of All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett, who followed up his fortuitous kick and scored.
Their only second-half try, to replacement winger Will Jordan, came in the 77th minute and too late to change the match. It came from one of the few occasions when an All Blacks slipped an Ireland tackle, on this occasion through fullback Jordie Barrett who passed to Jordan for his 14th try in 19 tests.
When the All Blacks erred, Ireland almost inevitably punished them, notably through flyhalf Sexton, who kicked three penalties and two conversions — five goals from five attempts — for 13 points.
“We were beaten out of the blocks in the first 15 or 20 minutes,” All Blacks captain Sam Cane said. “We showed some massive character to hang on like that and then to score a try before halftime.
“But they’re a great outfit and they bounced back in a big way tonight. I think we just had too many unforced errors and that didn’t allow us to get our game going.”
Cane wouldn’t be drawn immediately after the match on the cards that left New Zealand with only 14 men for almost two-thirds of the match.
Fainga’anuku was shown a yellow card in the 17th minute after leaping in the air in an attempt to charge down a kick, then contacting Mack Hansen’s head on the way down. The contact seemed accidental but the referees considered it careless.
Prop Ofa Tuungafusi followed him to the sin-bin in the 25th when he took Ringrose out of play as Sexton made a break and a try seemed imminent. New Zealand seemed lucky to avoid a penalty try.
Tuungafasi was still in the bin when his replacement Ta’avao became one of a small group of All Blacks to be sent off in a test match. He came off worse in a head-to-head collision with Ringrose but the referees determined he was always trying to make a high tackle and found no mitigation to spare him a red card.
Ryan was sent to the sin-bin just before halftime but Ireland overcame his loss to score the first try of the second half.
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