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Captain Brian O'Driscoll claimed Ireland restored a large measure of pride despite suffering a last-minute loss to New Zealand in Christchurch.
With the scores locked at 19-19 after 79 enthralling minutes, Dan Carter's drop goal had just enough behind it to scrape over Ireland's bar and give the world champions - playing with 14 men at that stage - a 22-19 win.
Ireland's performance was much improved from their 42-10 loss in the first Test, though, and O'Driscoll took heart from that.
He said: "We set standards of ourselves and we're trying to be a consistent team. We dipped below those standards last week, individually and collectively.
"The jersey deserved a little bit more from us and we talked about that this week. Trying to restore a bit of that (pride) in the jersey and I think we did manage to do that. We fell at the final hurdle still."
But O'Driscoll admitted it was hard to take solace from running the All Blacks so close.
He added: "It is difficult when you have fought your way back into the game and got level on the board. 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."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said: "We probably shouldn't have won tonight but the composure we showed allowed us to do that. That is the sign of a good team.
"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."
Captain Richie McCaw praised his side for maintaining belief in the game-plan in the final stages.
He added he was "quite happy" when referee Nigel Owens awarded his team a penalty from a contentious, wheeled scrum with eight minutes on the clock.
He said: "To be fair, Ireland had pressure on our scrum, but you've got to do it legally and, in the view of the referee, they did it (at that scrum) illegally."
Ireland coach Declan Kidney refused to single out any of the string of decisions that went in New Zealand's favour following Israel Dagg's trip to the sin-bin.
He said: "We are just trying to work on what is under our control. We will have a look at it this week, but will only be focusing on what we can control."
Kidney praised the performance of scrum-half Conor Murray, Ireland'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."
O'Driscoll's midfield partnership with Gordon D'Arcy was responsible for shoring up the Irish backline.
D'Arcy came off with 20 minutes on the clock and Kidney revealed that the inside centre had a tight calf that will be assessed on Monday.