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The definitive moments from All Blacks' quarter-final triumph

Winston Aldworth,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 Oct 2023, 10:45AM

The definitive moments from All Blacks' quarter-final triumph

Winston Aldworth,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 Oct 2023, 10:45AM

The key moments from one of the great Rugby World Cup clashes: The All Blacks went into Sunday’s quarter-final against Ireland as underdogs and secured a remarkable victory in their drive to Rugby World Cup glory. Coach Ian Foster needed big performances from stars like Sam Cane, Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett. 

9 minutes: All Blacks’ attack the lineout 

After soaking up a lengthy period of All Blacks attack in the opening minutes, with Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett prominent in the close exchanges, the Irish get their chance with a kickable penalty. 

Tellingly, skipper Johnny Sexton turns down the three pointer and instead punts for an attacking lineout. 

They back their set piece. And – facing the threat of a driving maul – the All Blacks back theirs. 

Brodie Retallick gets up high in the middle of the lineout – he’s not able to steal the pill but he gets enough of a tip on it to disrupt the Irish platform. The All Blacks backline defence scrambles to keep the men in green scoreless. 

That lineout set the tone for the rest of the match, with the All Blacks jumpers often choosing to compete for possession rather than pack down to contain attacking mauls. On their own ball, the All Blacks pack is largely able to supply fast, clean ball throughout the match – paying off to best effect when Richie Mo’unga is fed a gem and makes a clean break in the 53rd minute leading to Will Jordan’s try. 

Four minutes later, when presented with another kickable penalty, Sexton does the sensible thing. 

12 minute: The Cane train 

Sam Cane puts in a monster hit, setting a ruck that allows Ardie Savea to secure possession and win a kickable penalty. It’s a combo that was served up often throughout the match, the All Blacks skipper going to play his best game in a black jersey. 

He had a face like thunder when the teams took the field, and he tackled like thunder too. Cane made the most tackles of anyone on the field, putting 21 Irishmen into the turf, and outshone his much-fancied opposite Josh van der Flier. And he hit hard – every tackle seemed to have a little extra venom in it. 

It was a remarkable 75-minute shift – as a good as any defensive effort we’ve seen from an All Blacks No 7. Cane put to bed Peter O’Mahony’s famous sledge – the Irishman last year said to the All Blacks captain: “Who do you think you are? You’re a s*** Richie McCaw pal.” 

O’Mahony will have plenty of free time this week to think up another zinger of a line while the big teams are getting ready for the semifinals. 

Sam Cane acknowledges the crowd in Paris. Photo / Getty ImagesSam Cane acknowledges the crowd in Paris. Photo / Getty Images 

36 minute: Yellow card #1 

Aaron Smith’s snap reflex action as he tries to grab at an offload from James Lowe ends badly. It’s a knock-on, and the referee makes the call that it’s worth a yellow. It felt like a tough call, but the rulebook is pretty clear. 

Two minutes later, Jamison Gibson-Park becomes the fourth New Zealander to score a try in the match, and with the conversion Ireland are right back in it on the halftime whistle, the score at 18-17. 

One positive from the card was that the 10-minute rest possibly meant All Blacks bosses didn’t feel a need to sub Smith off in the final stages. Having wise, old heads on the field proved crucial as the clock ran down. 

For collectors of Wayne Barnes missing forward passes in Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, there’s a highly dubious offload from James Lowe immediately before the incident. Facing parallel to the pass, the whistler is perfectly positioned to see it. 

50th minute: Porter’s pilfering 

The All Blacks are hot on attack when Ireland’s busy prop Andrew Porter merrily wanders into an offside position and plucks the ball out of a ruck. Again, it happens right in front of Barnes. 

With their attack cut short just as Ireland’s stretched defence seemed about to yield, the All Blacks are suddenly on the back foot and do well to scramble out from their own 22m. 

Barnes watchers – those at home and the 15 in black jerseys on the field – are frantically trying to figure out the Englishman’s ruck interpretations. 

58th minute: The gap opens 

After Mo’unga’s scything dash puts Jordan away, Sexton misses a kickable penalty, meaning the All Blacks finally feel some comfort in the margin. At 25-17, they’re at least two scores up. 

63 minutes: Yellow card #2 

Hooker Codie Taylor is pinged for dragging down an Irish maul from a well-worked attacking lineout. Referee Barnes does well to see it, with Taylor on the other side of the maul and bodies blocking the view. 

Both times they got yellows, the All Blacks conceded seven-pointers. 

Cards – both yellow and red – seem to flutter around these All Blacks in key moments. They’ll be pleased with the Herculean effort that kept them in the game despite running with only 14 men for a quarter of the match. But a card in the semifinal or final could be fatal. 

71 minutes: Jordie’s Kaino moment 

When replacement hooker Ronan Kelleher dives over the line at the back of a surging maul, Jordie Barrett somehow manages to twist the Irishman’s torso upwards. It’s a heroic try-saving effort, reminiscent of Jerome Kaino’s freakish hit-and-drag on Digby Ioane in 2011. 

The goal-line restart is wellied deep, where Caelan Doris stone-cold drops the ball. In the space of half a minute, Ireland have gone from a deadly try-scoring chance, to conceding an attacking scrum. The All Blacks have the momentum as the match enters its final stages. 

Will Jordan and Beauden Barrett celebrate at the final whistle. Photo / PhotosportWill Jordan and Beauden Barrett celebrate at the final whistle. Photo / Photosport 

82 minutes: The final whistle 

The final whistle comes after a 37-phase battering of the All Blacks defence. The defence is calm and focused. Seen-it-all lock Sam Whitelock (whose lineout steal in the 2015 semifinal also proved decisive) is the man who lands the winning turnover, but there are heroes all around him. 

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