Steve Hansen has defended referee Romain Poite's decision to send Wallabies hooker Tolu Latu to the bin late in the All Blacks' 37-20 win in Yokohama.

Latu was shown a yellow card for an open hand push to the face of All Black hooker Codie Taylor, effectively ending any chance of a miracle Wallabies comeback.

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The altercation began after Taylor pushed Latu following a scuffle during the game, which the Wallabies hooker reacted with a strike to his opponent's face.


All Blacks coach Hansen said the decision was "probably" harsh but said Latu had left the referee with no other option.

"You are not allowed to strike someone in the face so it was pretty dumb wasn't it. And if you do dumb things you get dumb reactions," Hansen said after the game.

"The referee had no other option by the law and if he hadn't done it he would have been chewed up by his bosses. He's just done what the law says he should do and given the guy 10 minutes.

"Sport brings out moments where you over react and I think the young hooker has overreacted to something and to be honest Codie did, too but he didn't hit him in the head.

"He pushed him on the shoulder. It was a whole lot of nothing really."

Wallabies fans were outraged by the referee's decision, taking to social media to express their disapproval.

However, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was more reasonable, saying his player shouldn't have reacted the way he did.

"You shouldn't do it because if they push us and he pushes back then he should know it is going to come back on us. That is just the nature of where we are at the moment," said Cheika.


"He shouldn't do it but at the same time as a footballer you don't want to be pushed. I don't think the referee was going to do anything about it when he kept coming towards him.

"I understand he wants to look after himself and stand up for himself that is part of the game … but not in that manner."

The Wallabies made eight clean breaks to the All Blacks' four, including a number early in the second half when the match was in the balance at 17-13 after 50 minutes.

But they made a whopping 17 turnovers compared to their trans-Tasman rivals, who made just seven, which ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides.

"I think that's why we're very flat because there was a lot of stuff to work with," Cheika said.

"Just too many turnovers in key moments and too many turnovers in general.

"It's a bit of a reason why we're feeling like that.

"But some things we can work on for sure."