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Barrett shines again in Dublin victory

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/11/2016 Angelo Risso
Beauden Barrett of New Zealand © Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images Beauden Barrett of New Zealand

All Blacks first-five Beauden Barrett collected an Aaron Smith pass off the back of the scrum, scythed through the Irish defence and coasted towards the line.

And then disaster almost struck.

The newly crowned World Rugby Player of the Year, looking to ground the ball near the posts, veered in and found himself crunched by a Johnny Sexton tackle.

As the pair slid past the in-goal, the ball looked briefly to have been held up by the Irish No.10, no doubt causing Barrett's heart to jump right into his mouth.

But thankfully for the Hurricanes whiz, the try was awarded by TMO to put his side ahead 14-3 and on the road to an eventual 21-9 win in Dublin.

It could've been a major embarrassment in what was otherwise an imperious display on foreign soil, producing the goods in attack, defence and with the boot.

"I should've just dotted down and made life easier," Barrett told reporters.

"The second angle didn't look good, but I knew that part of the ball had hit the ground on the first angle, so it was just a relief."

The Dublin Test marked the side's first genuine sense of hardship in the post-Richie McCaw era, as the surprise winners in Chicago looked to compound the world champions' misery.

No side has defeated New Zealand back-to-back since South Africa in 2009.

Barrett said his side had failed to challenge Ireland with their kicking two weeks ago and looked to atone for their disappointing performance this time around.

However Barrett's love for the attack, instilled through countless afternoons playing footy with his brothers in Taranaki, occasionally got the better of him.

"Sometimes I was a little too attacking and we weren't as smart as we needed to be, but I think I was better than recent weeks," the 25-year-old said.

"We didn't shape them enough with the kicking so we put a lot of onus on communication and calling out space."

The back-to-back Tests with Ireland will serve as invaluable scouting for next year's Lions tour, with many Irish stars in line to pull on the red jumper next July.

Barrett, who labelled northern hemisphere rugby more forwards-focused and set-piece heavy, said he expected to see more than a few Irishmen on Kiwi soil.

"It's been a challenging week, we were pretty keen to play this game last week but had to wait."

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