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‘Revenge is sweet for the All Blacks’: New Zealand media reacts to quarter-final win over Ireland

Captain Sam Cane’s performance praised in ‘a class contest, one of the best in World Cup history’

New Zealand secured all rights to pen the script following a brilliant Rugby World Cup quarter-final victory at the Stade de France.

The narrative will focus on the derring-do of an All Blacks side that demonstrated tremendous resilience, to complement obvious quality, in maintaining a death grip on victory in that fraught finale.

Liam Napier in his match report in the New Zealand Herald wrote: “Revenge is sweet for the All Blacks as they stride one step closer to their pursuit of cathartic World Cup redemption.

“The 78,000 at Stade de France – a sea of green and pockets of black – were treated to a class contest, one of the best in World Cup history, as Ireland and the All Blacks traded punch and counter punch amid a fever-pitch atmosphere that stretched well into added time.


“On that pinnacle stage, the All Blacks proved their resilience and resolve to overcome the odds by knocking out Ireland, the world’s number one side, to halt their 17-Test unbeaten surge.”

Napier described losing to Ireland on New Zealand soil last year “that low point,” and that the All Blacks “exacted revenge”.

He continued: “Ian Foster’s All Blacks have endured much adversity in the last four years but surviving two yellow cards to emerge from a knife-edge knockout match ranks up there with anything else.”

In the same newspaper Gregor Paul wrote under the headline “New Zealand’s Moment of Truth”, that “it came and tested them to their limits, probably beyond, but from the depth of their soul they dug out the most brilliant, brave, astonishing win.

“They were everything they wanted to be. Everything they needed to be and while they produced three magical tries, it was the last four minutes that will live long in the memory when they pulled off the most disciplined, committed defensive rearguard of the modern age.

“Ireland just kept coming at them, wave after wave of attack but the All Blacks kept tackling, kept covering and eventually, after goodness knows how many phases – probably 30 – Sam Whitelock pulled off the winning turnover and the glory was New Zealand’s.”

The Herald’s online sport’s editor Will Toogood wrote an opinion column where he took up the cudgels on behalf of New Zealand captain Sam Cane. He wrote: “When Peter O’Mahony called Sam Cane a “s*** Richie McCaw”, he had little idea what he’d set in motion.

“Sixteen months later, the All Blacks’ openside flanker delivered 75 minutes that made a case that his name should be etched alongside those who’ve delivered the great performances of the New Zealand Rugby World Cup tapestry.

“Cane led the match with 21 tackles, some of them bringing the feeling, even through a television screen, that he was reminding those watching of what he brings to this All Blacks team. Dominant in the contact and then so precise in his breakdown work that he was reminiscent of his predecessor; the All Blacks captain would be happy to quote O’Mahony while dropping the prefix.”

Toogood also laid into Newstalk.

“In the lead-up to the match, Irish podcast Off the Ball laid bare the perceived failings of the New Zealand forward pack. The front row concedes too many penalties, the locks are old and don’t work hard enough and Sam Cane ‘doesn’t know how to ruck properly’.

“In an on-field response, Cane displayed a merciless disregard for opposition welfare that has seldom been seen in his international career. The foundation of his game has always been consistency – and he was consistent, with Ardie Savea in tow, the rangatira of ruthlessness in setting the standard for the All Blacks’ defensive effort – Cane’s rib-tickling dismantlement of Hugo Keenan should be taped and replayed in the loose forward classrooms of Aotearoa.”

Former New Zealand World Cup winger John Kirwan said on Sky New Zealand: “Ireland were outstanding right to the death but even with the yellow cards, our guys stayed calm, they stayed disciplined. This team’s come together, they’re peaking at the right time and they showed incredible courage.”

While Ireland’s efforts were widely praised, Kirwan did note. “If you can’t get the monkey off your back, it turns into a gorilla. It’s now a gorilla for them. You carry the weight of expectation on your shoulders, and it just gets really tough.”

Former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick speaking on BBC Radio Five live said: “What an unbelievable game of rugby union. We had to take the game to Ireland, they are the world number one for a reason and either team could have won. I am lost for words. I knew the All Blacks had a game in them, but it was the way they delivered and put pressure on Ireland.”