New Zealand coach Steve Hansen offered no excuses for his side’s 40-29 loss to Ireland on Saturday, a defeat that ended their record 18-match winning streak, and said the “right team” had won the test at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Ireland’s win over the All Blacks was their first in 29 meetings, a run stretching back 111 years.
The All Blacks had become the first top tier nation to win 18 consecutive tests when they beat Australia last month and were targeting the overall record held by Cyprus, who racked up 24 straight wins by beating the likes of Austria and Luxembourg.
Hansen said giving away penalties had put his side on the back foot on Saturday.
“In the first half they had all the momentum and we talked before the game about not giving away avoidable penalties but because of the pressure we did and they built momentum and we were chasing them,” he said.
New Zealand gave away seven penalties to only three by a disciplined Irish side, who scored two tries during the 10 minutes prop Joe Moody spent in the sin bin in the first half.
“The Irish played very well and congratulations to them,” Hansen was quoted as saying on allblacks.com. “The right side won. We’re not going to make any excuses about not having the right people.”
New Zealand were missing three top locks in Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano.
Hansen’s Ireland counterpart, and fellow New Zealander, Joe Schmidt, however, felt that that had been a factor.
“They are usually incredibly efficient and very parsimonious when it comes to allowing you to get some territory or some points,” Schmidt said.
Ireland had to withstand a ferocious fight back in the second half when New Zealand reduced the deficit from 25-8 at halftime to 33-29 with a quarter of an hour remaining.
“I’m incredibly proud of how the boys put themselves out and worked incredibly hard at 33-29 with that All Black wave,” Schmidt said.
Their previous meeting in Dublin in 2013 had ended with New Zealand wiping out an Irish lead of five points in the 82nd minute with a converted try for a 24-22 victory.
Schmidt said it was a relief when Robbie Henshaw touched down for Ireland’s fifth try.
“There was a little bit of deja vu there with them doing a similar thing to us in Dublin three years ago but it was great the way they bounced back and managed to get that score and get a little bit of breathing space.”
The two sides meet again in Dublin on Nov. 19 after New Zealand’s visit to Italy and Ireland’s home game with Canada next weekend.