by Frank Schnittger
Sat Nov 5th, 2016 at 09:06:01 PM EST
The Irish team form a figure of 8 in memory of former Irish international and no.8, Anthony Foley, who died a couple of weeks ago, as the All Blacks perform the Haka.
The Chicago Cubs aren't the only team on the cusp of history, winning their first title in 108 years. Ireland have never beaten the All Blacks in 111 years of trying. But somehow this first ever match between the two teams in Soldier Field stadium in Chicago might just be different.
The current all blacks team are double world champions and have just completed a record 18 tests unbeaten winning the southern hemisphere's rugby championship by a record margin in the past few weeks. Meanwhile, Ireland haven't played a test since June.
After 10 minutes the All Blacks have a man in the sin bin and Ireland lead 10 - 5 despite the All Blacks scoring a somewhat fortuitous try - the ball bouncing off Kieran Read's head which means it's not a knock-on.. 70 minutes to go. 15 - 8 after 20 minutes.
Ireland continue to put on the pressure dominating territory and possession. Ryan Crotty and Jordi Murphy go off injured - Jordi in a lot of pain from a knee injury. If its his cruciate ligament, he could be out for a year.
The All Black have been conceding a lot of cheap penalties - if it wasn't the All Blacks, you'd say they were rattled. Ireland are dominating the set pieces - line-out, maul and scrum. The All Blacks are finding it difficult to get into the game.
Conor Murray scores a third try catching the All Blacks napping. They look completely confused.
And yet the Irish tactics have been entirely predictable. Mauled line-outs, choke tackles, kicks in behind, compete in the air.
Half time: Ireland 25, All blacks 8. The All Black's Coach, Wayne Smith, will be reading the riot act to his team in the changing room just now.
Second half - small mistakes by Ireland - a knock-on and a lost line-out, but then another high tackle by the all blacks. Penalty Ireland, and then another try for Zebo. The all blacks are in complete disarray. They haven't conceded 30 points in 3 years.
But they come back. They aren't the World Champions for nothing. They score two good tries, but then concede another penalty. Unfortunately Sexton is carrying an injury and can't take the penalty. Murray - who rarely takes penalties - nails it.
Sexton goes off to be replaced by a new cap, Joey Carbury, who celebrated his 21st. Birthday on Tuesday and who has only played 10 senior matches for Leinster. Carbury kicks a fine tactical kick in behind the All Blacks defence and gains almost 50 yards.
Squeaky bum time. The all blacks score another try and are almost rampant, but the clock is ticking...The score is now 33 - 29. One more try by the All Blacks, and they are in the lead.
The Irish scrum is rock solid and the backs take it up the field with a great skip one pass by Payne and kick by Zebo. Murray runs 80 yards to tackle Savea into touch and goal. 5 yard scrum to Ireland. Henshaw scores a great try off a very solid scrum. Carbury nails the conversion although he later misses a penalty.
As the clock winds down the all blacks are making all sorts of uncharacteristic mistakes. The Irish are determined not to make the same mistake as three years ago, when they let a 19 point lead slip and lost to a try at the very end of the game.
Game over! 40 - 29!