New Zealand Hold off Ireland in Titanic Battle
“The agony goes on. Ireland must wonder what they have to do to break this quarter-final curse, how long to spend as No 1 in the world, how many grand slams to win, how many victories in a row. Let the record state: eight quarter-finals, eight defeats,” The Guardian’s Michael Aylwin writes from the Stade de France. “And for the All Blacks now: nine quarter-finals, eight wins.”
“How New Zealand have suffered themselves of late, toppled for some time from their perch as the perennial champions of everything oval. This may not mean a return to the top for them, but that familiar precision, that doggedness in defence, that nose for victory has been regained,” Aylwin writes.
“[Ireland’s] last siege, phase after phase, deep into the red minutes, advancing relentlessly into the 22, the crowd almost murmuring with suspense. One last thrust, one last All Black, the veteran Sam Whitelock, over the ball. Irish dream over. All Black supremacy restored.”
With their 28-24 win the All Blacks have reached the semi-finals and will play Argentina on 21 October.
Original article by Michael Aylwin, The Guardian, October 14, 2023.