CJ Stander delivered the crucial moment that told New Zealand it was not their day 3 years ago

CJ Stander delivered the crucial moment that told New Zealand it was not their day

"We want to go after them, not step away."

That was the sentiment instilled in the Ireland team by Rory Best on the night before they faced the All Blacks at Lansdowne Road.


Ireland stepped forward in unison to meet the All Blacks' Haka and they continued the theme on the pitch. Whenever possible, in their 16-9 win, they got up in New Zealand faces and starved them of time and space.

After, in 'Dressing Room 4', Ireland scrum-half Luke McGrath marvelled:

"The defence, in general, stood out. Dev’s hit on Retallick, when I was on the pitch. Peter O’Mahony coming back that was unbelievable I couldn’t believe it I thought his hamstring was gone running back [to prevent a Ben Smith try].

"Moments like that you look back and say ‘They were big moments in the game’."

Of all the 'moments' - and there are plenty to choose from - CJ Stander may take the prize for an iron-clad piece of poaching that raised an almighty roar into the November air. It arrived with 4:35 on the clock and, looking back, feels as important now as it did amid the Lansdowne Road din.

Beauden Barrett got play underway and, with Devin Toner back in the his side, the first high ball was pouched and Ireland got set to exit. Kieran Marmion's first box-kick was on the money and Keith Earls did enough to put Damien McKenzie off. Josh van der Flier almost snaffled the ball before Ardie Savea swooped in and the All Blacks had their first proper feel of the pill.

Barrett attempted to jag inside Stander and James Ryan but it was not happening. Both Irish forwards slammed him back over the halfway line.

A few phases later and Barrett, back on his feet, put up a high tester for Jacob Stockdale. The Ulster winger could not gather but there - not for the first time - was Rob Kearney. Right place, right time and the ball was back with the hosts.


Stander switched to attack mode as he took a pass from Marmion and welcomed Crusaders centre Jack Goodhue to Dublin with a full-on charge:

Credit: RTE

20 seconds later and, after a Garry Ringrose carry, Stander was next man up again. It's little wonder that he ended the match with 22 carries. He got over the gainline again as Liam Squire was shunted back.

Marmion kicked the ball back to Barrett and it was handy ball for the visitors, despite Jacob Stockdale's hard chase. McKenzie thought he had Keith Earls' number as the Munster winger pressed up in the line, but his kick in behind was snatched before going out of play and Earls pinged a kick back past the halfway line.


Barrett passed loosely to Ryan Crotty, who found Ben Smith. His up-and-under cannoned off Rob Kearney's shoulder and Owen Franks pounced on the breaking ball.

Barrett kicked in behind Earls again off the next phase as Kearney slid in to clear up. Still, it was an All Blacks lineout and they were attempting to keep the wingers honest, and provide extra space out wide, by kicking over the advancing Irish lines.

Codie Taylor found Squire in the lineout and New Zealand shaped to maul before springing an attack through Ardie Savea. He found Crotty on the pelt and it took Marmion and van der Flier to bring him down.

Van der Flier - a late replacement for Dan Leavy at openside - pounced on Aaron Smith as the ball squirted back from the breakdown and he wrapped up Sam Whitelock.


It was almost a turnover but Tadhg Furlong's supporting tackle felled Whitelock and a ruck was formed. Squire, Savea and Kieran Read all made carries but the fresh Irish lines were not for buckling.

Goodhue then made a metre with a strong carry but Stander spotted a poach attempt. He looked well set but a forceful clear-out from Savea knocked him off his feet and referee Wayne Barnes ordered him to "roll away".


Rory Best, Devin Toner and Cian Healy all stood up well before centres Garry Ringrose and Bundee Aki combined to bring down McKenzie. Read was the next to carry and it was Healy joining forces with van der Flier to stop him in his tracks.

Ringrose then roused the crowd, and his teammates, by bursting out of the line to land a hit on Goodhue. It was one of 14 tackles he stuck on the night, in a solid defensive effort.

Stander dipped in for another poach attempt but backed away, arms raised, when Barnes shouted, "You're not over the ball."

He would get another opportunity 10 seconds later. Read showed for another carry and Peter O'Mahony tackled him around the ankles. Stander and van der Flier were on him in a flash.

Sam Whitelock (No.5) attempted to clear out but he was hindered by O'Mahony's roll to his left. Prop Karl Tuinukuafe was a beat too slow and it was costly.

Stander was locked on the ball and though Savea joined in to try shift him it was of no use.

Barnes whistled and a fired up Stander kept wrestling until he had snatched the ball away from Read's grasp. The All Blacks captain had been isolated and turned over eight metres from the Irish line.

Credit: RTE

The home support let out a visceral roar and it was the first real victory on a night that would be full of them.

There would be two more Stander turnovers on the night and a level of physicality that few All Blacks could live with.

Jacob Stockdale's stunning try will be replayed time and again but it was also a night of other battles won within a war.

Toner battering Brodie Retallick back. Rob Kearney flinging Beauden Barrett over the sideline. Rory Best rediscovering his poaching form. Kieran Marmion taking down Rieko Ioane in full flight.

Too many to name here but it was all sparked by that Stander turnover.