Ireland defy All Blacks for historic series victory in Wellington

Andy Farrell's team first touring side in professional era to win series on New Zealand soil

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A courageous Ireland held off a fierce All Blacks fightback to claim an epic 32-22 win in Wellington on Saturday and seal a series victory 2-1.

Warhorse captain Johnny Sexton was supreme as the Irish shot out to a 22-3 lead by halftime, stunning the hosts with a string of tries and bone-jarring tackles.

Proud New Zealand, fired by loose forward Ardie Savea and jet-heeled back Will Jordan, clawed their way back to within three points at the hour-mark to set up a tense finish.

But replacement prop Rob Herring grabbed a late try from a line-out drive to steady the Irish, and their stonewall defence held off waves of All Blacks attackers to ensure a famous win.

"It hasn't quite sunk in," said winger James Lowe. "A result like that, on the bounce, in New Zealand, who would have thought that? "They're still the best in the world, we knew the storm was coming. We were able to get the job done, I can't put into words how I feel."

The victory - Ireland's fifth in their last eight meetings with the All Blacks - establishes Andy Farrell's team as among the leading contenders to win next year's World Cup in France. They became the first touring team in the professional era to win a series on New Zealand soil.

"Our fans turned out tonight, but also four million people back at home for breakfast, probably having a couple of pints watching us," said Ireland captain Johnny Sexton.

"We wanted to do them proud and we certainly did that. The effort was incredible and it's a very special day because we're playing against the best in the world, the very best, and to come down here and do it is very special."

Ireland will now shoot to the top of the world rankings a year out from the World Cup, while New Zealand's defeat will heap further pressure on embattled coach Ian Foster.

Ireland's win condemned the All Blacks to back-to-back home defeats for the first time in 24 years.

"We're gutted," said All Blacks captain Sam Cane.

"We didn't put out the performance we wanted to but we can't take anything away from Ireland. They were too good tonight. Massive respect to Ireland, they've been class and they deserve their win tonight.

Updated: July 16, 2022, 9:43 AM