Rugby World Cup: All Blacks break Irish hearts with colossal quarter-final victory in Paris

The All Blacks have stunned world No.1 Ireland, taking victory in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final with a 28-24 win in Paris.

Four years on from the All Blacks' 46-14 victory over the same opposition in Tokyo, coach Ian Foster's side did the same again, and left Ireland still without a World Cup knockout match victory.

On a night where the two sides could hardly be separated, the All Blacks resisted wave after wave of Irish pressure, and achieved the most memorable moment of the Foster era.

Victory for the All Blacks sets up a semi-final against Argentina at the same venue next weekend.

Ardie Savea scores.
Ardie Savea scores. Photo credit: Photosport

After a nervy opening few minutes, that saw a botched Richie Mo'unga clearance and more than one pass go to ground, the All Blacks quickly got stuck into their assignment.

A series of nearly 30 phases resulted in a penalty that saw the All Blacks settle for three points, and take the lead through Mo'unga's boot, before Ireland had had any real use of the ball.

But when presented the same opportunity, Ireland opted to attack and went for a lineout in the corner, seeing former Tasman-turned-Ireland winger James Lowe unable to finish on the left flank, and keep his side scoreless.

While Ireland looked to attack at any opportunity, the All Blacks were content with adding to their score in threes, as Jordie Barrett doubled the score with another penalty from the halfway line for a 6-0 lead.

After the quarter-hour mark, the All Blacks finally broke Ireland's defence for the first try.

A classic up and under from Beauden Barrett saw the All Blacks break wide, before an exchange with Rieko Ioane put Leicester Fainga'anuku in to score, justifying his selection after Mark Telea was dropped in the week for breaching team protocol.  

Down 13-0, Ireland could no longer afford to throw the kitchen sink at the All Blacks, and opted to kick for goal when presented the opportunity, as Jonny Sexton put his side on the scoreboard in the 23rd minute.

The All Blacks celebrate.
The All Blacks celebrate. Photo credit: Photosport

Sustained pressure inside the All Blacks' 22 was finally converted by Ireland, as another former Kiwi, Bundee Aki, barged his way over for his side's opening try, to dispel any notion of a New Zealand walkover, as Sexton's conversion closed the gap to 13-10 in the first half.

The All Blacks, though, answered Ireland's call.  

A lineout in the corner from a Mo'unga 50/22 resulted in Ardie Savea diving over in the right corner to celebrate his 30th birthday, and restored the lead to beyond a converted try as halftime approached.

Minutes before the break, though, Aaron Smith was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on that was initially missed by referee Wayne Barnes, giving Ireland 10 minutes with a numerical advantage.

Two Irish lineouts later, Ireland's third Kiwi, halfback Jamison Gibson-Park scored his side's second try, darting over from close to the line and brought the scores to within a point at 18-17 by the time halftime arrived.

After the resumption, the All Blacks saw out the rest of Smith's yellow card unscathed, and returned to their full complement still ahead on the scoreboard.

Back at 15, the All Blacks managed the first try of the second half, as a Mo'unga break freed Will Jordan to score in the right corner for his fourth score in as many matches against Ireland, and extended the Kiwi advantage to beyond a converted try again.

Pressure began to tell on Ireland, as Sexton missed a straightforward penalty that would have closed the gap to five points, as the All Blacks turned to their bench.

But needing to score to stop the game running away from them, Ireland hit gold with a penalty try from a lineout drive, and saw Codie Taylor shown yellow card for his involvement, before he was replaced by Dane Coles while in the sin bin.

Two Jordie Barrett shots at goal – one successful and one otherwise – helped run down the clock and extended the All Blacks' lead once again, tasking New Zealand with repelling one last Irish assault.

But that's exactly what Foster's men did, and gave themselves another week on rugby's biggest stage.  

All Blacks 28 (Fainga'anuku, Savea, Jordan tries; Mo'unga 2 conversions; Mo'unga, J.Barrett 2 penalties) 

Ireland 24 (Aki, Gibson-Park, Penalty tries; Sexton 2 conversions; Sexton penalty)