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‘Proud All Black’ Jordie Barrett reflects on ‘impressive’ defence against Ireland

By Finn Morton
Jordie Barrett and Ardie Savea of New Zealand celebrate after the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between Ireland and New Zealand at Stade de France on October 14, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

About an hour after the full-time whistle sounded at Stade de France, a relieved-looking Jordie Barrett walked through the mixed zone. The All Blacks are semi-final bound, and their win over Ireland will echo throughout history as an all-time classic.

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Playing in front of more than 78,000 passionate fans at the Parisian venue on Saturday, the All Blacks overcame a penalty try and two yellow cards to pile more quarter-final misery on the Irish.

With the All Blacks leading 28-24 in the dying stages, Ireland threw more than 35 phases of attack at a solid All Blacks defensive wall as they fought valiantly for what would’ve been a match-winning score. Some cracks emerged, sure, but the New Zealanders held on.

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151-Test veteran Sam Whitelock was the hero as the towering lock brought an end to Ireland’s attacking assault with a penalty at the breakdown. New Zealanders went berserk as the Irish fans fell uncharacteristically quiet.

Ireland’s 17-Test unbeaten streak had come to an agonising end as the All Blacks inflicted another quarter-final defeat upon the Irish. New Zealand will play southern hemisphere rivals Argentina in a semi-final next weekend.

As the old sports adage goes, defence wins championships.

“I think the most impressive thing is the control and mental resilience,” All Black Jordie Barrett told reporters just after midnight on Sunday morning.

“To not give away a penalty and then Sammy Whitelock, 151 Tests now, to come up with a play like that (is) unbelievable.

Points Flow Chart

New Zealand win +4
Time in lead
0
Mins in lead
77
0%
% Of Game In Lead
93%
72%
Possession Last 10 min
28%
0
Points Last 10 min
0

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“We’ve got a defence system there that (assistant coach) Scott McLeod has built – we built it basically for Ireland. Had to defend a lot together, their short passes going out the back to Sexton, they just pick you off if you’re a bit wide.

“It was just our system working and obviously some great ticker in that last play.”

The horrors, agony and disappointment of last year’s historic series defeat to Ireland on New Zealand soil will never be forgotten but the 2023 All Blacks have claimed some much-needed revenge on the biggest stage.

It didn’t come easy, either.

Rugby World Cup winners Aaron Smith and Codie Taylor were both sent to the sin bin as New Zealand played a quarter of the Test with 14 men. During that period, centre Barrett pulled off an incredible try-saving tackle to keep the lead in the All Blacks’ favour.

“In those moments it’s just about showing as much care as you can and it’s not hard to show care when you’re a proud All Black and you’re trying to win a game for your country,” Barrett continued. “You get off the ground pretty quickly when that’s at stake against the best team in the world.

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“Just unbelievable ticker and I wasn’t gonna let that one try slip.

“Their one to eight have such a good short passing game and they’ll pick you off if you’re defending wide or you’re biting on defenders. It was just about staying connected and discipline our system as much as possible.

“They still found holes, that’s how good they are. We’re just lucky that we got to show a little bit more.”

 

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