Thursday 22 February 2018

McKenzie and Hansen in war of words over Kiwis' penalty tactics

New Zealand 27 Australia 16

Australian Wallabies head coach Ewen McKenzie
Australian Wallabies head coach Ewen McKenzie

Greg Stutchbury

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has expressed frustration at the way advantage laws are being applied after New Zealand were forced to soak up a furious start by a fired-up Australia side before going on to retain the Bledisloe Cup for an 11th successive year.

On several occasions in the opening onslaught on Saturday, South African referee Jaco Peyper had been playing a penalty advantage to the Wallabies and the All Blacks infringed again to halt proceedings as Australia pressed near the New Zealand line.

For all of their possession and territory, the Wallabies were restricted to a brace of Christian Leali'ifano penalties before the All Blacks struck back with 15 points in the final 15 minutes of the first half to effectively seal the result.

When asked yesterday whether he felt the All Blacks had been content to offend again in penalty advantage situations, McKenzie said the issue could not be confined to one game.

"That's a broader philosophical discussion that applies to everyone," he said. "Once you have conceded a penalty and the referee plays advantage then it just seems to me to be open slather to concede another because you already know that it's going back anyway.

"Where it becomes a problem is the initial infringement. If the initial infringement is a repeated one at the breakdown then they (referees) play advantage and (if the next) penalty is offside the penalty becomes the offside and they don't go back to the original penalty, which might have been a yellow card. So you get the penalty and you might get three points, but the game is ostensibly about scoring tries."

"He needs to be careful in how far he wants to take it," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen responded. "Usually you're better to play the game and get on with it. You can't blame the ref. They're put under a massive amount of pressure from their own boss and they don't need it from coaches. They just need to be consistent and I thought he was consistent for the whole game.

"I can sit here and pick holes in how they took us out, how they held us back when the ball was played, how they obstructed us in the midfield," he said. "I could do all of that but I'm not going to."

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