Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Dagg breathes big sigh of relief

All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg in action against Ireland.
 Photo / Brett Phibbs
All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg in action against Ireland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

There were few players more relieved at the All Blacks' narrow win over Ireland in Christchurch than fullback Israel Dagg.

The 24-year-old was forced to watch the final eight minutes of the match from the sin bin after his late and high hit on opposite Rob Kearney earned him a yellow card from referee Nigel Owens.

"I just jumped. It was just one of those things. It looked bad and the ref had to make a call and I just have to take it on the chin. Luckily, the boys got a win otherwise I'd probably get a smack," Dagg said afterwards.

Dagg said he jumped instinctively to try to put Kearney off his attempted clearing kick. The result was a mid-air collision, with the Irishman coming off second best, although he was not injured.

"I just jumped trying to put him off his kick and he sort of ran forward and he got a bit of a shoulder," Dagg added. "I haven't been in that position before so it was pretty new. It's always running through your head that you can't do anything.

I was pretty stoked for the boys that they ground out that win, it just shows a true champion team."

With the scores locked at 19-19, the resulting long-range penalty kick from Jonathan Sexton would have edged Ireland in front. Instead, the attempt fell short and it was third time lucky for Dan Carter, who sealed it with a drop goal with 30 seconds remaining.

Apart from Dagg's yellow card, his first, it was a difficult night for him and his fellow All Black backs. In the first test in Auckland, Dagg was in sublime form and counter-attacked at will as the All Blacks put on five tries. At AMI Stadium on Saturday night, opportunities were extremely limited in the freezing conditions.

"Basically, the only ball we got was kicked to us and they kicked well and put us under pressure," he said.

"Their forwards played well, they attacked our set piece and their one-off runners were effective. I thought Brian O'Driscoll played well - he was running straight and hard and putting the boys under a bit of pressure.

"We just made too many errors in our own half and put ourselves under pressure. The Irish took advantage of that."

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