New Zealand beat Ireland in the second quarter-final of Rugby World Cup 2023 at Stade de France to progress to a semi-final against Argentina.

New Zealand saw off a late siege at Stade de France to triumph 28-24 after an epic contest as Ireland suffered an eighth Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat on Saturday.

Leicester Fainga’anuku’s try helped the All Blacks race into a 13-0 lead before centre Bundee Aki danced his way over for Ireland. Ardie Savea responded but Jamison Gibson-Park’s try, with Aaron Smith in the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on, saw their lead cut to 18-17 at half-time.

Will Jordan bagged his fifth try of the tournament but a penalty try, with hooker Codie Taylor also getting a yellow card, saw Ireland again get within one point.

Centre Jordie Barrett then kicked a penalty before New Zealand held on in the closing minutes despite 37 phases of Irish attacks to set up a semi-final with Argentina at Stade de France on Friday, 20 October.

All Blacks number eight Ardie Savea, named the Mastercard Player of the Match, expressed his pride in their performance.

“There was a lot riding on this week,” he said. “It was one of those test matches that was a battle. To go out there and play against a world-class Irish squad, we gave the fans what they wanted.

“This Irish team have set the standard this whole year. I just want to send love to them. I am just so proud of my boys.”

New Zealand prevailed despite playing 20 minutes of the match with 14 men.

“To be honest, I kind of didn’t notice,” Savea added, “We just had to dig deep and we got through in the end.”

Captain Sam Cane, who also had an outstanding game, said his side were “absolutely stoked” to reach a ninth semi-final in 10 tournaments.

“It was a crazy test match, an absolute arm wrestle for 83 or 84 minutes, both teams going at it,” he said. “A lot of credit has to go to Ireland. They have set the standard round world rugby for the last couple of years so we knew the challenge that we had here tonight.

“I am super proud of the effort that went into the week’s preparation. Our ability to defend our line for 30-plus phases at the end, that’s huge. What an atmosphere, what a game, what a tournament to be part of and I’m just really happy to have another week.”

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster praised a “fantastic” display from his side, who have five days to recover before facing Los Pumas next Friday.¬†

“We all knew it was going to be a monster game and it was,” he said. “It was a real arm wrestle. They’re a proud team, Ireland, they really hung in there. I thought we had them a couple of times but they kept making the game really tight.

“I am so proud of the way we played. Our defence, particularly in that last part, was brilliant. We were disciplined, we held our cool. I thought defensively we made some shifts and found a way of stopping their line breaks coming to us. It just became a game of patience in the end and we did it well.”

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said he was “unbelievably proud” of his squad despite falling short of what would have been a men’s record-equalling 18th successive test victory at elite level.¬†

“That was one hell of a game and somebody had to lose – unfortunately it was us tonight,” he said. “At the start of the game we coughed up penalties and gave them field position and six points. I was so proud of the way we came back and kept attacking them right until the death.

“We’ve had a good run but sport can be cruel sometimes – I guess that’s why we love it. The way we kept battling to the end shows the character of this side.”

Farrell also paid tribute to 38-year-old captain Johnny Sexton, who is retiring from rugby now their tournament is at an end. 

“First and foremost he’s an outstanding human being,” he added. “He’s probably the best ever player to play for Ireland and when you’re 38 and playing your best rugby, it says a lot about the man.”

Sexton also said his overriding emotion was pride in his team and the Irish nation at large.

“We couldn’t have done any more, it’s just fine margins,” he said. “They sucker-punched us on a few tries and that’s what champion teams do. We knew they were a great side and we fell just short unfortunately.

“This six weeks has been a dream – this group, these fans and I’m just gutted we couldn’t do it for them.” – WORLD RUGBY

- Advertisement -