New Zealand 27 - 16 Australia, Rugby Championship
Hansen hits back at claims of cynical play
August 25, 2013
The All Blacks didn't need help from Jaco Peyper, Steve Hansen said © Getty Images

Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Andy Withers

  • Man of the Match: Ben Smith bagged another brace of tries to go with his hat-trick in Sydney, but Steven Luatua produced a performance to have All Blacks selectors and fans alike asking "Liam Who?" when Messam is fit to resume. The Blues and All Blacks tyro confirmed the high opinion of admirers with his physicality in the loose, line-breaking ability with ball in hand, and soft hands in a number of movements.
  • Key Moment: Kieran Read pulled down a midfield bomb in the 25th minute, and the All Blacks put the ball softly through hands, including Luatua's mitts, on the right side to send Ben Smith clean through for his first try. New Zealand had barely been in the game to that point, but the try, converted from the sideline by Tom Taylor, saw momentum shift towards the hosts, who were never thereafter going to lose the match.
  • Hero of the Game: Tony Woodcock became only the fourth New Zealand All Blacks player to rack up a century of Test caps, and only the fifth prop, and he produced an immense performance in the set-piece to mark the occasion. He gave Australia's Ben Alexander a bath in the scrum, and Richie McCaw was fulsome in his post-match praise. Tribute, too, to Tom Taylor for a fine Test debut, kicking 14 points, after a shocking nervous first effort, and organising the backline with great efficiency. It is said the All Blacks machine all but runs itself, but certainly it hummed as efficiently as it did in Sydney and few folk noticed the absence of Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett.
  • Villain of the Game: Jaco Peyper perplexed the Wallabies with a number of rulings in the 16-8 penalty count in favour of the hosts. The All Blacks outplayed their opponents in the biggest moments of the game, but the Wallabies were not dominated throughout the game to the extent suggested by the penalty count, and Australian fans, players and coaching team can wonder what might have happened had the South African reached for his cards as the Kiwis committed a number of professional fouls in the opening 30 minutes.
  • Talking Point: Mr Peyper chose not to go upstairs to consult the television match official when awarding the penalty from which Australia opened the scoring, despite the protestations from a number of Wallabies, notably run-on debutant Scott Fardy, that Stephen Moore had scored a try. Television replays suggested Australia's hooker could have been awarded a five-pointer, although who knows whether a double movement or a bobbled grounding would have been found. The technology's there for you to use, Mr Peyper, and certainly neither you nor your touch judge was in a position to see.
  • Play of the Game: Ben Smith's second try featured a super half-break and pop pass from Ma'a Nonu before a searing linebreak from Steven Luatua to link with his wide runners. The play showed to best advantage the All Blacks' broken-field play, and their ability to punish an opponent's mistakes.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen delivered an angry riposte to Wallabies counterpart Ewen McKenzie after Australian accusations of cynical play in the Bledisloe Cup Test at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.

McKenzie criticised South African referee Jaco Peyper on Saturday for letting the All Blacks off the hook with what the coach described as a series of poor decisions during New Zealand's 27-16 win, and he followed up on Sunday with allegations that New Zealand infringed repeatedly under pressure, happy to concede a series of penalties rather than a try.

"Once you concede a penalty and the referee plays advantage then it just seems to me to be open slather to concede another one and another one because he has already conceded the first one so you already know it's going back [for a penalty]," McKenzie said. "I'm going to be asking the question about how it's dealt with."

McKenzie's thoughts were echoed by captain Will Genia, and they follow claims after the first Test in Sydney that yellow cards should have been used to deter cynical All Blacks methods on defence.

McKenzie said the Wallabies should have been rewarded for their early dominance in Wellington either with tries or the sight of All Blacks offenders in the sin-bin; they got neither as Australia crashed to a 15th successive loss on New Zealand soil and were left counting 10 successive failed challenges to retrieve the Bledisloe Cup.

The Wallabies, in particular, were seething after Aaron Smith and then Kieran Read infringed at the ruck after Christian Leali'ifano had been pulled down a metre from the line in the 24th minute. Australia already had a penalty on advantage when Read cynically scragged Genia at the base of the breakdown with a try in the offing. Leili'ifano slotted the goal for a 6-0 lead but the Wallabies felt it should have been more and Read should have been sin-binned.

"When we do get a linebreak and then do get an advantage it seems like they just want to try and kill the ball so you we don't get to play off a line break or play over the advantage line," Genia said. "We get three points but ideally you want to get seven points."

The Wallabies also had a long advantage in the Kiwi quarter as they chased the game in the second half, but they lost their chance for a try when Conrad Smith raced up off-side as Genia passed to Scott Fardy.

Hansen described the comments in the wake of a 16-8 penalty count against Australia as "sour grapes", saying that similar claims could be made about illegal Wallabies tactics of taking out All Blacks players off the ball.

"[McKenzie] needs to be careful how far he takes that," Hansen said. "He might find that backfires on him. Ewen can do what he wants, I guess. I could sit here and pick holes about how often they took us out and held onto us after the ball was played and obstructed us in the midfield."

New Zealand confirmed their trans-Tasman dominance in Wellington (video available only in Australia)

Hansen said that McKenzie's attack on Peyper was designed to shroud shortcomings in the Wallabies game, and he urged his fellow coach to focus on his team rather than criticising officials. "If they think that's why they lost the game then ... usually you're better off just to play the game and get on with it," Hansen said. "You could pick holes in every decision made. But where does it get you?"

Hansen was happy with Peyper's performance, which he described as consistent. He agreed that an apparent shoulder charge by Ma'a Nonu warranted a second look by match officials, but he said that justice was served when no citing was forthcoming. "The hardest job on the field at the moment is the referee's. They're getting put under a massive amount of pressure from their own boss. They don't need coaches putting it on them either."


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