New Zealanders understandably don’t react well when their national rugby team loses a Test match.
They are so accustomed to All Blacks victories, that any defeat — even a monotonous dead rubber — sends a shockwave through the nation’s sporting landscape.
And a loss to the Wallabies in the Bledisloe Cup stings that little bit more.
Although Australia’s surprise 24-22 victory at Suncorp Stadium on the weekend didn’t the final outcome of the four-match series, which New Zealand won 2-1, that didn’t stop Kiwi pundits blasting their cherished All Blacks.
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Fielding an inexperienced starting XV, New Zealand came undone by strict officiating and poor decision-making, and NZ Herald columnist Gregor Paul didn’t mince his words when reviewing their “shapeless, thoughtless” performance.
“Under pressure, the All Blacks now revert to what they know — pass and catch and run from everywhere,” Paul wrote.
“The result was a predictable loss — built on poor decision-making, worse execution and a shapeless, thoughtless plan that seemed to be built on the flawed notion that the faster they played, the better they would be.
“The defeat in Brisbane was as much attributable to the All Blacks’ mental weakness as it was the Wallabies’ physical resurrection.”
Beauden Barrett of the All Blacks.Source:Getty Images
Stuff reporter Richard Knowler shared a similar outlook, saying New Zealand’s ill-discipline “almost defied belief”.
“(All Blacks coach Ian Foster) has to address the issue of discipline when players are provoked; the Wallabies went out to niggle, needle and taunt the All Blacks, and as hooker Codie Taylor later ruefully reflected, they made the mistake of ‘feeding the beast’,” Knowler wrote.
“While having tighthead prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi red-carded for making contact with Wallabies wing Tom Wright’s head in the first half was undoubtedly a major blow, Foster would have also been frustrated lock Scott Barrett gave referee Nic Berry reason to yellow card him for playing the ball on the ground in the final quarter.
“Barrett probably thought he was only going to risk being penalised and rolled the dice; instead he got 10 minutes in the sin bin, and during his absence, the Wallabies surged down the home straight to secure victory.”
Foster defended the decision to rest several star players for Saturday’s dead rubber, conceding his new-look side were “clunky” in attack.
“We just felt that this tour was about giving people opportunities, and so I’ve got no regrets,” Foster said on Sunday.
“But we certainly looked a bit clunky in our collective decision-making, but I think we’ll be better for that, when they have a bit more time under the belt.”
The All Blacks perform the Haka.Source:Getty Images
Echoing the sentiments of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, Foster had no quarrels with the two red cards Berry produced in the first half.
“When people start talking about, ‘You don’t need cards’ and all that, I get that argument to one extent,” Foster admitted.
“But the flip side of it is it’s a very physical game, and if we don’t have clear boundaries, it becomes really hard for everyone to play the skilful game they need to.”
Foster said the All Blacks need to be “better and smarter” ahead of their next Test match against Argentina at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday, November 14.
“We weren’t as disciplined as we needed to be,” Foster said. “We were being pushed in the areas and provoked in the areas, and again that’s a tactic that teams use against us, and good on them.
“We gave away some kickable penalties. And then that yellow was sort of on top of that and probably just reflected a little bit of frustration when there didn’t need to be any frustration.”
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