New Zealand have been taught a harsh lesson in how difficult it can be to play away against the northern hemisphere’s best, coach Ian Foster has said after his side’s 29-20 loss to Ireland at a raucous Lansdowne Road.
Ireland, who failed to record a victory over New Zealand in 111 years of meetings until five years ago, scored tries through James Lowe, Ronan Kelleher and Caelan Doris to deliver a thoroughly deserved victory.
While New Zealand demolished an under-strength Wales side 54-16 with a seven-try exhibition two weeks ago, they faced a far tougher test again the Irish in Dublin.
“It’s been three years since we’ve been up here [in Europe]. For a number of the players, they haven’t really been in a test up here and it’s very, very different,” Foster told a news conference.
“It’s very much a pressure game you’ve got to deal with.
Ireland’s pressure was intense from the outset, pounding at the All Blacks’ line and forcing them to make some 160 tackles to Ireland’s 37 in the first 40 minutes.
Despite that, the All Blacks led 10-5 at the break thanks to a line break from Dalton Papalii, who released Codie Taylor to score, cancelling out Lowe’s opener.
“I was delighted with the fact that under the sheer weight of possession and territory, our defence stood up pretty strong and got through to half-time a bit battered but in a reasonably good position,” Foster said.
However, the Irish onslaught never let up, with Kelleher crossing just after half-time to level the scores before Doris made it 20-10 shortly after.
“We weren’t very clinical in those first 10 minutes [of the second half] and we had to go chasing the game,” Foster said.
New Zealand should have scored to reduce the lead to a single point late in the game, but for Akira Ioane’s effort being ruled out after a needless forward pass from his brother Rieko.
After that chance went begging, Ireland regained their composure, with replacement flyhalf Joey Carbery knocking over three late penalties, one from the halfway line, before the packed house erupted on the final whistle.
“It doesn’t happen by accident. We’ve been building towards this, and the most important thing now is that it’s a starting point, not a peak,” Ireland captain Johnny Sexton told a news conference.
The All Blacks face France in Paris next weekend in their 15th and final Test of the year.