Ireland's win over France in Paris rated better than historic Dublin victory over All Blacks

SKY SPORT

Ireland outplayed the All Blacks in 16-9 triumph in Dublin.

Ireland's historic win over the All Blacks in Dublin was eclipsed by a Six Nations victory in Paris.

That's the view of former Irish loose forward Neil Francis as the annual end of year reviews do the rounds in Britain and Ireland.

Two writers in The Times of London rated Ireland's first win at home against the All Blacks as their favourite sporting moment of 2018.

Ireland's win over France in Paris rated better than historic Dublin victory over All Blacks
GETTY IMAGESBundee Aki of Ireland celebrates his team's win over the All Blacks in Dublin.

But Francis reckoned the 15-13 nail-biter in Paris that set up a Six Nations Grand Slam not only surpassed the win over the All Blacks but might have been the best Irish sporting moment ever.

Irish No 10 Johnny Sexton was the star in Paris with his 45m dropped goal sealing an unlikely win .

Ireland's win over France in Paris rated better than historic Dublin victory over All Blacks
GETTY IMAGESIrish star Johnny Sexton kicks the long-range dropped goal for the last-gasp win over France in Paris.

"Ireland's 42-phase series in Paris back in February leading up to Jonathan Sexton's match-winning drop goal was not only the greatest sporting moment in 2018 in Irish international team sport, but of all time on this island," Francis wrote in Ireland's Independent.

"I've watched the film countless times at this stage and as an essay in selfless commitment, trust in the team ethic and raw courage, nothing else I have seen comes close.

"What elevates these great moments is the ability to do things at the only time of asking and under the most extreme pressure from a formidable opponent. To elicit a winning response when it was easier to fail is why the nation will remember that passage long into the future. It fully engaged the nation."

Francis suggested the kick was "surely the most satisfying moment of Sexton's career".

"It was a staggering feat of co-ordination and understanding under murderous levels of pressure. What a moment. It stopped the nation."

But The Times begged to differ as they rated the drama of Ireland's 16-9 win over Ireland up there with a number of footballing, cricketing and motorsport highlights among others in another sporting year full of action and milestones.

"The best sporting event I have ever been at (nevermind this year)," Rebecca Clancy, who is a motor racing reporter for The Times, said of her experience of attending the Dublin thriller.

"When Ireland took that step during the haka, you felt that something special was about to happen, but could they really do it? They set off at a ferocious pace and made it count. But, it is never easy watching Ireland play rugby, and as the All Blacks surged in the dying moments, the tension was unbearable.

"Then that magical sound — the final whistle. Ireland had beaten New Zealand for the first time ever at home. The Fields of Athenry was deafening. Nobody left the stadium. There were tears. The Irish and the Kiwis all shook hands and went out into the night to have a beer together. Dublin was rocking. It was sport at its best."

Alex Lowe, deputy rugby correspondent, agreed as he highlighted the stunning try at the heart of Ireland's famous win against Newe Zealand.

"Ireland laid the foundation for their victory over the All Blacks with a performance of unrelenting intensity and physicality in defence, rocking the world's No 1 team out of their comfort zone and forcing mistakes.

"But amid the brutality was a moment of beauty from one of the most dangerous wings in world rugby. Ireland shaped to attack through midfield after winning a lineout but Bundee Aki reversed the play and released Jacob Stockdale down the blind side. Stockdale chipped over the New Zealand second rows Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick before outstripping Aaron Smith to regather the ball and put Ireland 16-6 ahead with his 12th try in 14 tests."

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