Published Saturday, 16 June 2012
Disappointed Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll after the narrow defeat. (© PA)
Ireland, who suffered a chastening 42-10 defeat in the sides' last encounter, looked keen to avoid a repeat of the first test and raced into an early lead when Scrum-half Conor Murray touched down after ten minutes.
The Munster man picked up from the base of a ruck and darted over following a well-worked Irish line-out, to give the visitors a shock advantage.
Jonathan Sexton added the extras and knocked over a penalty soon after to edge Declan kidney's men further in front, but New Zealand replied with three Carter penalties to leave just a point between the sides at half time.
The hosts took the lead soon after the restart thanks to a try from Aaron Smyth, who was driven across the line in the 43rd minute after some ferocious forward play.
Carter added the extras from a difficult angle, and the two out-halves traded penalties before Sexton found the mark with back-to-back kicks to draw the sides level at 19-19.
Ireland's search for that elusive first win looked like it could be coming to an end when the All-Blacks were forced to play the final eight minutes with 14 men, after Israel Dagg was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Rob Kearney.
However, it wasn't to be as Sexton's subsequent penalty effort fell short, setting the stage for Carter to fire over a drop-goal inside the final minute to seal a three-point win.
Ireland's captain, Brian O'Driscoll, could not hide his disappointment after the final whistle, and admitted he was "gutted" after running New Zealand so close.
"It is difficult when you have fought your way back into the game and got level on the board," he said. "They were a man down for the last seven or eight minutes.
"It is difficult to take any positives from the performance but I'm sure, when we look back, there will be plenty of them.
"We have another goal for next week and we don't have to finish our season on that (result). We have an opportunity to go to Hamilton and do what, essentially, we failed to do today."
Ireland coach Declan Kidney praised the performance of scrum-half Conor Murray, the side's try-scorer, and insisted there was more to come from the 23-year-old.
Kidney said: "He had the confidence to play a bit more tonight. He showed that with the opportunity that he took.
"(His selection) was a tight call and Eoin Reddan did well. We'll just have to see how guys pull up during the week."
Meanwhile the All Blacks coach, Steve Hansen, said his team "probably shouldn't have won" but showed composure to snatch a late victory.
"That is the sign of a good team," Hansen explained.
"The big thing tonight is that we have beaten an Irish side that has, probably, played as good as they could have. We didn't play great."
New Zealand now have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series ahead of the final test to be played next weekend.