Three key questions: Did All Blacks win or Ireland lose?

Aaron Cruden kicks the match-winner against Ireland. Photo / Getty Images
Aaron Cruden kicks the match-winner against Ireland. Photo / Getty Images

Herald rugby experts Gregor Paul and Patrick McKendry answer three key questions following the All Blacks' last second victory over Ireland in Dublin.

1. Did the better team lose that one?
Patrick McKendry: It's easily to believe that but it takes a special effort to win from 19-0 down after as many minutes and 22-7 down at halftime. The All Blacks hardly fired a shot but never mentally checked out. They were relentless in the final minutes and deserved their win, the toughest of the year by a long shot.
Gregor Paul: The score is kept for a reason: to find a winner and a loser. Forget that moralistic, subjective nonsense about who deserved what. Teams deserve what they get and as brilliant as Ireland were they played for 79 minutes and not 80. The All Blacks won.

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2. How did the Irish dominate so easily?
Patrick McKendry: They smashed the All Blacks forwards, simple as that. They controlled the contact area, breakdown, mauls,lineouts. The All Blacks were a bit passive and nearly paid the ultimate price. Ma'a Nonu and Ben Smith were flat-footed as a result and Cory Jane and Israel Dagg ceased to be attacking threats.
Gregor Paul: Ireland were better at the breakdown and nullified the ball carrying of Kieran Read.

Brian O'Driscoll isolated Ma'a Nonu and forced him to come back inside all the time and Ireland were magnificent, generally, on defence. They played off emotion for the first 10 minutes, scored two great tries and then believed they could won.

3. Where did the Irish mess up in the end?
Patrick McKendry: Poor Johnny Sexton. Had that penalty gone over they would have been celebrating at Temple Bar long into the night. Instead, the result was the usual tale of woe for the Irish. They got a bit defensive after that, as though they were preparing for the inevitable.
Gregor Paul: Ireland didn't mess up. It only feels like that because the All Blacks escaped so late. The All Blacks just took every available second to get the job done. Johnny Sexton's penalty miss was a bad one and so too was his missed conversion of the third try, but he played superbly otherwise. Nope, no stuff up - just a brave and grinding comeback.

- NZ Herald

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