All Blacks and Ireland agree: Ref had a shocker

By Gregor Paul in Paris

Jonny Sexton could have been yellow-carded for a high hit on Beauden Barrett.
Jonny Sexton could have been yellow-carded for a high hit on Beauden Barrett.

They might differ on the details on why they think so, but the All Blacks and Ireland are in full agreement that second test referee Jaco Peyper had a shocker.

Ireland reckoned the All Blacks were awarded two tries they shouldn't have been and maybe avoided at least one other yellow card. But the All Blacks could just as easily argue - and almost did without getting specific - that they had two separate tries wrongfully ruled out and that Ireland, too, could have been hit with double yellow cards.

If it was Ireland's turn to question the referee after the game, 24 hours later, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen decided to put forward his view.

"Obviously the discipline has got to improve," he said. "The Rob Henshaw tackle was a head clash. I just reviewed it again there this morning and they have collided heads. It wasn't a high tackle so he was knocked out as soon as they knocked heads but Mala's [Fekitoa] one was high.

"He just needs to have a look at that. It's clumsy and it's not the way we want to play. He will be spoken to but it was a physical test match.

"That's what you expect when you get two good sides playing each other. There was plenty of things on both sides; there was neck rolls and all sorts of things going on that were missed and that we could sit and complain about but when you get a physical test match you get a physical test match and that's what it was.

"No quarter asked and no quarter given. It [the focus on the referee] doesn't surprise me. It's a tough game to ref. They're human and they're going to make mistakes. You just hope they make them consistently."

Hansen was keen to redress the balance for two key reasons. Firstly, he dosn't want his side to have their reputation in Europe as thugs enhanced.

Secondly, it was an epic contest, compelling, committed and exactly what test football is supposed to be and there has to be some acceptance that both teams know they went out with a mind-set to play close to the edge of the laws and to explore what they could get away with.

It was that kind of test - one where it was apparent that the physicality would be high given the result in their previous encounter.

And both sides know, having reviewed the game, that they got away with more than they should.

Immediately after the game it was the Irish, perhaps because they had lost or perhaps because they had greater genuine cause, who felt the more aggrieved about the way key moments were officiated.

On their list of gripes was the Beauden Barrett try - did he touch it down - and whether there was a forward pass in the build up to Malakai Fekitoa's second.

There was some questioning too of a number of high tackles, most notably the Sam Cane collision with Rob Henshaw early in the game and Owen Franks' lunge at Connor Murray in the second half.

The Irish hinted that they felt Peyper had let them down. But as much as it may have looked - home crowd reaction always influences the perception - that Ireland had been hard done by, so too can the All Blacks mount a strong case to say they didn't have much go their way.

The tackle Johnny Sexton made to try to stop Barrett's try was high and dangerous. If Barrett had been judged not to have scored, it would most likely have been a penalty try in any case with Sexton being shown a yellow card.

Barrett scored a second try in the first half that was disallowed for a supposed knock-on - but the interpretation could just as easily and perhaps should have been that Irish first-five Paddy Jackson was stripped of the ball and the correct decision would have been play-on...try New Zealand.

And what about the knock-on by Andrew Trimble when Barrett chipped into the clear and passed to Israel Dagg?

In Super Rugby the knock-on would have been adjudged deliberate and the outcome either a penalty, or a penalty try in this case as Dagg would have been in the clear and probably would have scored. It also would have been a yellow card for Trimble.

- NZ Herald

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