Ireland Close But No Cigar

He’s one of the true greats of this era, and quite possibly Ireland’s finest ever Rugby player, but the look on Brian O’Driscoll’s face last night suggests he will feel somewhat unfulfilled if his career ends without having achieved victory over the All Blacks.

And Saturday night may well be the closest he gets. After being pounded in the first test at Eden Park the Irish were courageous and determined as Test Rugby returned to Christchurch, and were oh-so-close to achieving that elusive win.

With fire in their bellies they were relentless on defence, and played to their strengths far more than they had the week before. Poor tactical kicking continued to be a problem, but their willingness to put their bodies on the line ensured they contained the All Blacks’ outstanding backline, and with time almost up the scores were locked at 19-all.

Showing the composure of a World Champion side the home team, to their credit, refused to panic, and Dan Carter, as great players do, stepped up to the plate and knocked over the winning drop-goal, denying Ireland a famous result.

Next week looms as a huge challenge for the Irish – not only do they have to heave themselves up from a heartbreaking result in Christchurch, but they will face an All Black side which will inevitably get thrashed on the training paddock this week, and will be determined to finish the three match series in definitive style.