Next Saturday can’t come fast enough.
The First Test at Eden Park was a night that many of the Irish players must wish they could get back. Tadhg Beirne was one of a handful of usually reliable players that was quieter than he should be.
The Irish second row was outgunned and outshone by Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, in that first outing. Having been consistently one of Ireland’s best players over the last two years, that First Test featured very little of Beirne’s breakdown head-melting, cantering carries or smart passes.
He was okay, but so many in black – including their imposing second row – were on the money. Ireland had belted the Kiwis out of their comfort zone, last November, but Ian Foster’s side had returned the favour in Auckland.
For the Second Test, Andy Farrell turned to most of the men that had fallen short in their first outing and told them they could do better. There was a show of faith. Farrell and his coaches told their main men they had the beating of New Zealand, on their patch.
And so it proved. It proved because players like Tadhg Beirne, Caelan Doris, James Ryan and Jamison Gibson Park all upped it considerably from Eden Park. For us, Beirne and Peter O’Mahony [also brilliant, last week] were the two best Ireland forwards in their side’s 23-12 win.
The Munster lock was playing on his second game back after an injury ended his United Rugby Championship season earlier than hoped. As looseners go, a Test match at Eden Park is pure cruel, but Beirne was the better for it tonight.
His surging line break into the All Blacks 22 gave Ireland the attacking platform from which they eventually scored the opening try, through Andrew Porter. He split his 14 possessions between seven carries and seven passes, gaining 38 metres and beating three defenders, with an offload tossed out for good measure.
‘We probably looked at ourselves very tough’ – Tadhg Beirne
Tadhg Beirne stuck all 12 of his tackle attempts, showed up with some smart passes in Irish attacks and steam-rolled Jordie Barrett on one brutal carry. He was back to his general nuisance-ry at the breakdown, too. All he was missing was a turnover. It was almost the full package.
Following the game, Beirne was summoned over by Ryan Bailey of the IRFU for a quick word. How he had enough in the tank to compose himself and cut the promo he did, we’ll never know. The Eadestown native declared:
“It’s pretty special for all of us. We came out here and we wanted to create history, by being the first Irish team to win here.
“It’s an incredible feeling to know that we’ve done that. Now, we want to go on and hopefully win the series, which has, obviously, never been done either.”
“Last week,” he added, “we showed what we could do, in patches. We probably looked at ourselves very tough. We knew we could come out here and get the win. They were down to 14 for much of that game, and we knew we had to capitalise on that. Thankfully, we did.”
"We came out here wanting to make history and it's an incredible feeling knowing we've done that." ✊
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) July 9, 2022
A job may be done but, to Tadhg Beirne and his teammates, it will only be half done if they do not close the series out in Wellington with their second ever win down in the Land of the Long White Cloud.