England 16-26 New Zealand, Twickenham, November 6
Hape: Toeava try-saver unfair
November 7, 2010
Penalty try? Shontayne Hape is denied by Isaia Toeava © Getty Images
England's New Zealand-born centre Shontayne Hape feels his team should have been awarded a penalty try for Isaia Toeava's desperate try-saving tackle when he was about to score.
Hape was airborne and try line-bound in the 75th minute of England's 26-16 loss to the All Blacks when Toeava launched himself at Hape, knocking the ball loose.
As a former rugby league international with the Kiwis, Hape knows the difference between a shoulder charge and a rugby tackle and he is convinced Toeava's intervention broke the laws of the game.
If Hape had been able to maintain control of the ball as he dived in the left hand corner - or French referee Romain Poite judged Toeava's hit as worthy of a penalty try - an invigorated England would have closed within a score of equalling, or eclipsing, the undermanned All Blacks.
A penalty try and formality of Toby Flood's conversion from in front would have left the All Blacks to protect a three-point lead without the services of defensive workhorse Jerome Kaino - the blindside flanker was sin binned nine minutes from fulltime for one ruck and maul indiscretion too many.
"It wasn't a tackle," Hape said. "It was a shoulder charge and I thought maybe we would get a penalty try or something. When I saw the footage there is a hell of an impact. It happened so fast and 'boom', you get smashed out."
Hape's teammates asked if he correctly applied downward pressure, the former Auckland Warrior was unsure so it was left to Italian television match official Giulio de Santis to determine the 28-year-old's first Test against his birthplace would not end happily.
"Sometimes you get the benefit of the doubt but it wasn't to be. Their try was also a 50-50 decision," Hape said, alluding to Hosea Gear's borderline touchdown in the same corner 16 minutes into the first-half.
Hape felt had a penalty try been awarded, England were capable of mirroring the Wallabies' stirring finale in Hong Kong last weekend where they fought back to win 26-24 against New Zealand with a converted try by James O'Connor after the siren.
"In the last five minutes, we were having a good crack at them and they were a man down," Hape said. "It would have been interesting. As the second-half progressed we got a lot more confident."
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw agreed a Hape try would have made life even more complicated in the dying stages, though the New Zealand camp argued they were also done no favours by the match officials.
Dylan Hartley's 53rd minute try was debatable on two counts - wing Chris Ashton was in an offside position after his fullback Ben Foden hacked the ball towards the All Blacks line; Hartley also appeared to have been guilty of a double movement before he stretched over the chalk.
"I thought it was a double movement but you take what happens with the ref's call," said All Blacks No.8 Kieran Read.
Meanwhile, despite the sense of injustice Hape also had fond memories of just his third cap.
"I've heard the [New Zealand] anthem and seen the haka for years growing up so it was a strange feeling to face it," he said. "It was a weird feeling but once God Save The Queen came on and all the fans got behind me it felt really good. The kick-off came straight to me and I was able to put all the emotions out of it with that first run."
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