A red card, a yellow card, a citing and an unpleasant scuffle in the tunnel after the game - the second test could easily be interpreted as wild, reckless and spiteful with bad blood simmering ahead of the decider.

That wouldn't be All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's take on where things are at. Not even close. The test was physical, overly so at times but then, that's what happens when two teams give everything they have got.

The All Blacks coach has no sense of injustice that the Lions escaped censure at the time for Sean O'Brien's reckless challenge. Nor does he fear that the game got out of hand.
It was a physical test, the pressure was intense and both teams made errors of a disciplinary nature.

Sonny Bill Williams made a mistake with his timing and technique. Mako Vunipola made a poor decision in taking out Beauden Barrett late and O'Brien, cited for a challenge on Waisake Naholo that met the red card threshold, would be in the same camp as Williams - guilty of being clumsy, reckless and ill-advised.

Advertisement

As for the push and shove after the game, Kyle Sinckler said something Hansen suspects the big prop will wish he hadn't. There was a reaction from a few All Blacks and that was that. It blew up and it blew over.

The two teams mingled happily after the game, swapped jersies and war stories and left the ground with no hard feelings and the knowledge that they will have to accept their respective judicial fates as they play out.

"You have got two quality sides," said Hansen. "You'd have to be silly to think we are going out there to be nice. One of the reasons we love rugby - and I assume you guys as journalists love rugby - correct me if I am wrong, is the varying natures of the game.
"And one of those natures is the brutality and intensity that comes with it.

There is no genuine test match that doesn't challenge you physically and mentally and it is great for rugby. We are having to learn as a young team how to cope with that."

The measured reaction by the All Blacks to the litany of disciplinary issues mounting in this series is borne from Hansen's long-held belief that there has to be some leniency and acceptance for human error to play a part in every test.

All of the incidents in Wellington appeared to be more rash acts of clumsiness and poor decision-making than any obvious intent. The pressure of the occasion, the speed of the game and the desire of the athletes will mean that the best tests are always going to have controversial, grey area moments.

The last thing Hansen wants is to spend the build up to the third and deciding test with a narrative of bad blood and foul play obscuring the enormity of the scenario.

His team needs no extra incentive or distractions. He doesn't believe there was intent or malice behind any of the incidents and it's not his place to determine that anyway.

Advertisement

"Whatever I say is going to be twisted," he said. "There is a process and we trust the process. Sonny has paid a big price. The team has paid a big price. Whoever is adjudicating the process they will listen to all the information they are given and then they will make a decision. He'll plead guilty but I don't want to go into the whole thing because there is a process.

"Sonny is disappointed. Not for himself. He accepts that he made a mistake and he's disappointed that he has let the team down.

The mantra is that the team comes first and he knows he has let them down. But we can't go back and change it either. People make mistakes. It is a fluid game. It is a fast game and unfortunately he has made a mistake and we have to move on from it."