It was written in the stars, it was never in doubt.
It was written in the stars, it was never in doubt. For 81 minutes and 23 seconds, Ireland had been beating the All Blacks and were moments away from completing their first ever victory over New Zealand and crashing the All Blacks perfect season party. But the script to the All Blacks season wasn’t quite finished yet, there was still time for a dramatic plot twist. Time and time again New Zealand have proved that never giving up is the key to success. To cover 75 metres in 90 seconds and score in the corner after playing 80 minutes of brutal rugby showed just how physically superior this team was.
For Ireland, it was a cruel ending—they gave New Zealand the chance for one final attack. Sextons crucial penalty miss in the 72nd minute, from a position he has converted so many before, would surely have sealed the game with an 8 point difference being more than one score. Conor Murray’s decision to kick the ball straight into the hands of Barrett with 2 minutes on the clock and a 5 point lead to defend another one which came back to haunt Ireland.
Did New Zealand come back from 19-0 down or did Ireland throw away a 19 point lead? It would be harsh to say Ireland threw the game away and it would not reflect the comeback from the All Blacks, but a lot of the Irish players will be wishing they did a few things differently as they let history slip out of their hands and instead into the New Zealand rugby history books.
The final nail in the coffin came when Ireland charged too early on Aaron Cruden’s conversion attempt that he put wide and gave Nigel Owens no option but to allow a retake which Cruden duly slotted through the middle giving New Zealand the 24-22 victory and cementing their place in history as the first team to ever win 100% of their games in a calendar year, 14 wins out of 14. It seemed as if Ireland just weren’t destined to win this game.
What makes this All Blacks team so great
The strength in depth of the All Blacks has been one of the main reasons for their perfect season. The way they slowly integrate young players into the team also shows how coach Steve Hansen has one eye on the 2015 World Cup. Gone are the days where New Zealand were seen as a two man team, carried by Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. Such is how much the team has come along that those two have only played in 8 and 6 of the 14 games respectively. Neither of them have been nominated for the IRB Player of the year but Kieran Read and Ben Smith are both on the 5 player nomination list. Read has been instrumental in this All Blacks team and is a natural leader, and is currently the best number 8 in the world at the moment, and arguably the best player in the world.
But it’s not just a dominant pack led by Read that has been the key to All Blacks success, the deadly backline filled with world class finishers shows exactly why New Zealand scored 50 tries in their 14 games. Is there a more formidable back three in world rugby than Julian Savea, Isreal Dagg and Corey Jane?
World class teams aren’t made from their ability to win games 50-0, the greatest teams in sports are those that can do the impossible—those that can grind out a result. Teams that can come back and win in the dying seconds when all hope is lost. Belief and determination set the All Blacks apart from any other team in rugby, and arguably in any sport.
And just think, they could still have Sonny Bill Williams to come back for the world cup in 2 years! Now that is strength in depth.
Can anyone beat the All Blacks
1 defeat in 34 games, is this All Blacks side a team of immortals?
With the World Cup only 2 years away and New Zealand in such a dominant position, is there anyone who can challenge them for their world title in England? Irelands display shows that they have the potential to topple the All Blacks, if only they were a bit fitter they could have held out for another phase or two and closed the game off. Although they have won every game this calendar year, their last 3 games have seen them only win by a 7,8 and 2 point margin which shows a single score could easily have upset their perfect season.
Of course home advantage is huge in a tournament and England will feel confident that they can beat the All Blacks especially as they came close to beating them the other week.
France tend to be the All Blacks Achilles heel on the big stage and they very nearly ended the All Blacks perfect season at the start of the month, only for a moment of Kieran Read genius to guide New Zealand to victory.
South Africa are playing some hard hitting rugby and their bruising performances against Scotland, Wales and France show that they could be a real force to be reckoned with.
The bookies have the All Blacks as firm favourites to lift the Web Ellis Cup in 2 years, but a lot can change in 2 years.
What do you think about the performance of All Blacks? Have your say in the comments section below.