All Blacks gain revenge on Ireland with 21-9 Dublin win

DUBLIN (AP) " New Zealand shook off the indignity of its first ever loss to Ireland and triumphed 21-9 in the rematch in Dublin, leaving the host side battered and bemused on Saturday.

The rugby test in front of 51,000 roaring fans at sold-out Lansdowne Road came two weeks after Ireland's 40-29 win in Chicago. That stunning upset broke New Zealand's record 18-game winning streak, represented Ireland's first triumph over the All Blacks in 111 years, and got Irish hearts thumping at the thought of achieving rare back-to-back wins against the world's best team.

The visitors stormed out of the gates on a mission to reassert their dominance. They scored two tries within 14 minutes, then spent most of the second half repelling more than a dozen Irish advances with last-ditch turnovers and disruptive fouls.

Ireland scored five tries in Chicago but none at home.

First-half collisions forced out Irish starters Robbie Henshaw, Jonathan Sexton and CJ Stander. Henshaw took a shoulder to the head from flanker Sam Cane and had to be immobilized and stretchered off.

Cane came off limping with an ankle injury after colliding with Sexton, while New Zealand fullback Ben Smith suffered a broken finger.

"Whilst it wasn't always pretty, we've got to be pretty happy with the result," New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said. "In Chicago, we turned up five percent off mentally and they punished us for it. Today, we answered some questions about our team's character."

New Zealand led 7-0 after just three minutes. Flyhalf Beauden Barrett cross-field to an open Malakai Fekitoa on the left wing, and the center sidestepped scrumhalf Conor Murray and lunged across.

Barrett, named this week as world player of the year, doubled the lead by running straight through a gap in the Irish defense for an easy try. His delay in touching down the ball nearly cost New Zealand as Sexton caught him from behind and came within an inch of holding up the ball.

"That was nearly embarrassing," Barrett said. "I was trying to get the ball right under the posts, but first things first, I've got to get that ball down."

The Irish could muster only two first-half penalties, one each by Sexton and his replacement Paddy Jackson, despite forcing New Zealand down to 14 men after scrumhalf Aaron Smith was sin-binned for kicking the ball away from Ireland's ruck. New Zealand committed seven first-half penalties to Ireland's one but led 14-6.

Ireland attacked with renewed aggression in the second half and pinned New Zealand in its own half throughout the third quarter. Replacement flanker Josh van der Flier made the best of Ireland's line breaks, but the Irish repeatedly spilled the ball as they neared the All Blacks' tryline.

"We couldn't score that try," Irish captain Rory Best said. "If you want to beat the All Blacks, you've got to score more than nine points."

Reflecting the imbalance in possession, Ireland completed 243 passes to New Zealand's 134 and won 18 lineouts to New Zealand's seven, while the All Blacks made 166 tackles to Ireland's 76.

"That was a helluva tough match, a real test," All Blacks captain Kieran Read said. "The Irish play a great brand of footie. They hold the ball well. I'm pretty sore."

After halftime, Fekitoa was sin-binned for a high tackle on Simon Zebo, but Ireland parlayed that advantage only into another Jackson penalty that narrowed the score to 14-9.

The All Blacks struck the killer blow soon after Fekitoa returned from the bin, completing a counterattack of brilliant inter-passing with his second converted try in the 66th.

Hansen questioned why referee Jaco Peyper called 14 penalties against his team and just four against Ireland.

"I'd like to see some consistency throughout the game," Hansen said. "I saw the same things happening to us."

As for Fekitoa's yellow card, when he swung his arm into Zebo's neck as the Irish winger sprinted down the left touchline, Hansen called that "sloppy play, not malicious."

New Zealand completes its tour next Saturday versus France in Paris, while Ireland tries to end Australia's grand slam bid.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said he feared Stander, Henshaw, and Sexton all might be unavailable against the Wallabies.

"We've got a lot of head injuries to deal with," he said. "Some of those guys may not get the opportunity to play next week and that would be very disappointing."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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