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Moments in Time: Anything seemed possible when Stockdale delivered

Stockdale v All Blacks, Aviva Stadium November 17, 2018

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Jacob Stockdale celebrates after scoring Ireland's first try during the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Jacob Stockdale celebrates after scoring Ireland's first try during the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Jacob Stockdale celebrates after scoring Ireland's first try during the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The Aviva Stadium has witnessed some loud roars since its redevelopment, but not many compared to the cacophony that reverberated around the ground on a November night in 2018.

What Jacob Stockdale conjured up, with the help of his Ireland team-mates, was a sublime piece of skill that will stand the test of time. It may only have been two years since Stockdale brought a nation to its feet, and in turn the All Blacks to their knees, yet such was the intricacy involved in the match-winning try, it was too good to ignore for this piece.

I've always been a sucker for a perfectly executed set-piece try, purely because of the amount of time and effort that goes into perfecting the many moving parts involved.

Earlier that year, when CJ Stander scored in Twickenham as Ireland clinched the Grand Slam, I thought that was as good as it gets in the set-piece regard, until Stockdale delivered.

When the All Blacks rolled into Dublin in 2018, they did so safe in the knowledge that, on their last visit, they put Ireland in their place having been stunned in Chicago two weeks earlier. For one unforgettable night, though, a country dreamed big thanks to Stockdale's magic.

For a victory that will forever be remembered for the ingenuity of the Ulster winger's score, it was a display built around a sensational defensive effort. You could count on one hand the amount of times this All Blacks team had been kept try-less, but after Andy Farrell had masterminded a similarly heroic defensive display with the Lions the previous year, he did so again.

The tension was palpable throughout and as Ireland led 9-6 at the break, the optimists amongst the crowd were stirring.

Stockdale had them sitting even more uncomfortably when he very nearly made it a nightmare evening for him personally, as Kieran Read blocked down his audacious attempted chip over his head, shortly after the restart.

The All Blacks captain was one of the most skilful No 8s in the game, but when he knocked on the ball with a clear run to the line in front of him, you wondered if this was going to be Ireland's night after all.

That Stockdale had the guts to try the same trick, from a similar area of the pitch, just four minutes later, added another layer of intrigue.

It all started with Peter O'Mahony winning a trademark turnover penalty, which allowed Johnny Sexton to land a superb touch-finder, 10 metres inside the All Blacks half.

O'Mahony did well to get up in front of Read, who was inches from stealing Rory Best's throw. What often gets forgotten about here is that O'Mahony was helped by an excellent lift from Cian Healy at the front and Devin Toner at the back.

Kieran Marmion, who had deputised for the injured Conor Murray, fired a pass to Sexton, who had the fresh legs of Dane Coles haring up in his face. The out-half didn't have any time to think, but he had already called the move, which had been run several times in training. Sexton found Bundee Aki, who looked as though he would play off the three-man midfield pod, only to switch the play and catch the All Blacks cold on the blindside.

Best held his width from the lineout as Stockdale collected Aki's sumptuous pass. After that, it was all about the winger.

As soon as he looked up, he had two of the tallest men on the pitch, Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, bearing down on him.

Not deterred by his earlier mishap, Stockdale delicately dinked the ball over their heads and turned on the after-burners.

The ball, as it so often did that year, looked as though it was under the Ulster man's spell as it bounced favourably into his arms before his momentum carried him over the line. Cue pandemonium.

This was a coaching exhibition on how to manipulate space, having targeted potential weak points.

For the move to involve every player on the pitch, including the ones whose animation off the ball was just as important, made it even more spectacular.

Stockdale's try put Ireland on their way to that famous first win over the All Blacks on home soil, and as he crossed the whitewash, he lived every kid's dream of scoring in front of a sold-out home crowd against the reigning world champions.

For a few hours at least, anything seemed possible.

In this series, our writers have selected their favourite sporting moment at which they were in attendance, either in the press box or in the stand