The defensive effort was aggressive, in their faces and uncompromising. Tackles were made more often than missed. Surprising scrummaging power and competitive showings in the line-outs were both highlighs.
They played hard, with skill and desire, and deserved to win.
But enough about the Irish team... Lets discuss the unmitigated disaster of a performance which the All Blacks presented us with at the Brook.
Lets be honest. They were bloody appalling. Utter shit. Leon MacDonald said after the game that the error rate was unacceptable, and he was completely right.
John Mitchell will be absolutely wild with them this week, and I'm betting my last beer he'll have them doing ball skills work till the small hours right up till the next test.
In my book, the only reasons the All Blacks burgled a win were:
A defensive lapse by the Irish.
A brief moment of backline skill.
A poor night with the boot from O'Gara.
...and a few very very dodgy calls by the ref
Speaking of the ref, the Ireland team had every reason to be upset at some of the calls. I thought he made a few atrocious calls. But speaking after the game, Keith Wood took the loss on the chin, saying that in the professional era passion is not enough - essentially he said they weren't good enough.
I tend to disagree. At the conclusion of the game I was in disbelief that Ireland hadn't won. I still am. They looked the better team and beat the All Blacks in too many areas to mention. Except on the scoreboard obviously.
It has been a long time since I have felt so pissed off and frustrated after watching an All Black performance. As Fitzy would say though. All credit to the Irish. They were very clever with their play, transforming what was promising to be a slick All Black machine into a hidoues embarrassing insurance wreck.
In the All Blacks favour, they did defend well. The Irish backline - O'Gara and O'Driscoll in particular looked very good and despite letting them break the line, the cover defence generally mopped them up.
But... If the All Blacks play twice as well next week they still deserve to lose. The Irish have already earned a win in my book, and unless the All Blacks put in a brilliant performance against them at Eden Park, I wish the men in green their slice of history.