All Blacks ‘provoked’ in narrow loss to Aussies

All Blacks ‘provoked’ in narrow loss to Aussies

MELBOURNE • All Blacks coach Ian Foster has urged his team to play “smarter”, claiming they were “provoked” into losing their discipline by a niggly Wallabies side during the loss in Brisbane.

Foster tasted a bitter first defeat as All Blacks boss after his reshuffled side fell 24-22 in Saturday’s affair at Lang Park, which featured two red and yellow cards each.

New Zealand had won their 18th straight Bledisloe Cup a week earlier following their record 43-5 win over Australia in Sydney, so Lang Park was but a dead-rubber Test. But it was far from low key on the pitch as the All Blacks were punished severely for their indiscipline in the second half.

Wallabies flyhalf Reece Hodge slotted three penalties and prop Taniela Tupou scored the decisive try while Scott Barrett was sin-binned for drawing yellow in the 68th minute.

“In the second half, we weren’t as disciplined as we needed to be,” Foster told reporters yesterday.

“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’ve got to be better than that and smarter than that.”

The red cards that hit both teams for head-high tackles drew heated debate, with former All Blacks great John Kirwan saying the whole red card system should be scrapped because it punishes teams too severely and can end up killing off a contest.

“I get that argument to one extent,” he said. “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.”

The red cards were in line with World Rugby’s crackdown on contact with the head, which makes no allowance for accidental collision.

The All Blacks have notched two wins, a loss and a draw against the Wallabies in Foster’s first four matches in charge. They will continue their bid for the Tri-Nations silverware against Argentina in Sydney on Saturday.