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'That's exactly what we expected': Taylor reflects on 'arm wrestle' with Ireland

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images)

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The All Blacks never gave up in a Test match true to its name against Ireland on Sunday morning [NZT]. The visitors were resilient, and despite not having much ball, fell just short of what would’ve been an unlikely win.

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But Ireland thoroughly deserved the victory and were clinical in their performance as they recorded a 29-20 win at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

It’s a historic achievement for the Irish too, who have been a bogey team of sorts for the All Blacks in recent years

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In The Know with Michael Cheika
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For years, Ireland just couldn’t quite do enough to beat the All Blacks. They came agonisingly close in 2013 at the same venue, where an Aaron Cruden conversion after the siren saw the visitors win by two.

But since beating the All Blacks in Chicago in 2016, which was their first win over the men in black, they’ve had the advantage in this matchup in recent years.

The nine-point win was Ireland’s third win in five meetings against New Zealand, including two in a row in Dublin.

Hooker Codie Taylor started for the All Blacks again on Sunday, just as he did in that last meeting between the two sides outside of a World Cup. As the 30-year-old veteran of 66-Tests discussed, the crowd plays a part in these Tests.

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“I think on (an) even playing ground the crowd doesn’t get involved as such but over here, they had awesome fans at the game tonight,” Taylor said after the 29-20 loss.

“Any call they got there was loud noises and cheering and that can go a long way to get you over the line.

“But that’s exactly what we expected. Like you say, we’ve been here before and come out second best and I thought we’re in a good position to get the win but that wasn’t the case.”

The All Blacks spent a large part of the match defending but managed to lead by five-points at the half-time break courtesy of Taylor’s try 31-minutes in.

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The All Blacks were in the fight until the end, trailing by just three points with less than 10-minutes to play. But two Joey Carbery penalty goals iced the history-making result that sent the stadium into a frenzy.

“It was just a Test match mate, it’s what Test matches are. It’s a hell of an arm wrestle.

“We were right there that first half, I thought we dug really deep and defended really well to hold them out in periods of that first half.

“Then the second half, we just couldn’t quite, I suppose get some ascendancy with the ball and when they had it they put us under pressure.

“They’re a pretty sharp team when they’ve got the ball in hand and they wanted to obviously play and they did.”

By the time the Test had finished, the visitors had made 136 more tackles than Ireland and had only 39% of possession.

But in their Tests on the Northern Hemisphere Tour so far against the United States, Wales and Italy, the All Blacks largely had room to move and plenty to ball to play with.

“I think it’s really tough. I suppose in our previous games we’ve had the share, we’ve held onto the ball quite well and we probably didn’t do that well tonight.

“They obviously wanted to hold on to the ball when they were in our half and take that away from us and it worked in their favour.”

Poor discipline also undoubtably hurt the All Blacks, with the visitors conceding 10 penalties and a yellow card to Taylor.

Taylor was sent to the sin bin in just the 12th minute after a high tackle on Ireland flyhalf Jonathon Sexton.

While he had no excuses and said that “it’s just what the rules say”, Taylor identified discipline as one of the areas that the All Blacks have to improve on moving forward.

“It’s probably a bit of a tactical thing. I thought we kicked well at times and then at times we probably put ourselves under pressure a little bit when we tried to play out of our own half.

“When you do that against a team that just wants to hold and build phases and build pressure on you, then it makes it pretty tough.

“Discipline goes a long way to taking away threes and stuff like that when you’re defending in your own half.”

The All Blacks will face France in Paris next weekend in what will be their final Test match of the year.

It’s set to be a blockbuster, with the two rivals also set to meet in the pool stages of the Rugby World Cup in France in less than two years’ time.

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