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James Lowe celebrates after pulling off a crucial tackle on Rieko Ioane that led to an Ireland penalty.
“Never in a million years” did James Lowe think he would play against the All Blacks, let alone score a try against them.
But there was another moment during Ireland’s famous 29-20 win in Dublin that the New Zealand-born Ireland winger said he would treasure more than when he dived over in the left corner to open the scoring in his first encounter with the country he first dreamed of representing on the international stage.
Lowe, who came under heavy criticism for being a defensive liability during the Six Nations earlier this year, answered his detractors by pulling off a potential try-saving tackle on All Blacks centre Rieko Ioane at a decisive point in the game.
Down 23-20 with just eight minutes to play, the All Blacks launched a dangerous counter-attack from inside their own half following a scrum on their own 22-metre line and had a two-man overlap out wide.
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But before Ioane could get a pass away, he was crunched in a tackle from Lowe and conceded a penalty for holding on, allowing another New Zealand-born player, Joey Carbery, to extend the lead with a 50m penalty kick.
“You bollocks always talk about my d [defence] and I got up and whacked Rieko, and we got the turnover,” Lowe said after the game.
“I don’t care about that first try, it was the moment in the 70th minute, to be able to read [the play] and do everything I’ve been doing for the past six or seven months and produce it against the best team in the world, that’s what I’m happy about.”
Lowe had the first say in the game when he dived across to score in the 15th minute, and the former Chiefs and Tasman star also got the final say when he kicked the ball out on fulltime to seal the nine-point victory.
“Never in a million years could I have thought this day would come,” Lowe said.
“Since I was a kid I dreamt of being an All Black, man. That’s just a very Kiwi thing to do. But I gave up that dream. I wasn’t quite good enough when I was at my best.
“But to be able to come over here and put in a performance against the best team in the world, they’re the standard-bearers, and words can’t describe what it was like to hear my country’s national anthem and to stand in front of the haka. It’s a childhood dream.”