British press way off the mark, says All Blacks coach
July 18, 2000

All Blacks rugby coach Wayne Smith has laughed off English press criticism of his side's dramatic 39-35 victory over Australia on Saturday in a match generally hailed as one of the greatest ever.

The London-based Sunday Times and Times were unimpressed by several aspects of the All Blacks' game, although the writers did set their criticism in the context of a high quality match against the world champions.

The All Blacks' forward effort was thought unexceptional and England's defence and back row were rated more highly than New Zealand's. The reports were given prominence in New Zealand papers on Tuesday, but Smith said the English were overrating their own side.

"It doesn't worry me," he said. "Put your form on the result sheet let's have a look then.
"England have beaten South Africa once in the last couple of years but who else have they beaten?

"Everyone respects England, all the players respect them. We know they are a top four or five team but you don't have to keep telling us. We know that if we played England tomorrow, as the 'Boks know, you can win or lose it. But to say that they are better than us continually is not the truth.

"The England players would be embarrassed by that as well. They are up there with us, and up there with Aussie and South Africa but the only way you can prove it is on the paddock."

Saturday's test produced 10 tries and extraordinary excitement. The All Blacks led 24-0 after only eight minutes but the world champion Wallabies fought back magnificently to twice lead in the second half.

The All Blacks finally claimed the Tri Nations win with a try by winger Jonah Lomu in the final two minutes.

Smith admitted that the performance of his side's defence and lineout had left room for improvement and both are being addressed on the training field this week.

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