All Blacks coach Steve Hansen insisted Sunday there was no need to “push the panic button” after a heavy loss to the Wallabies, as the team refocuses for the return Bledisloe Cup clash in Auckland this week.
The Wallabies ran amok after All Blacks lock Scott Barrett was sent off late in the first half in Perth for their best-ever victory over New Zealand on Saturday, racking up 47 points to their arch rivals’ 26.
The result compounded New Zealand’s scratchy lead-up to their World Cup defence in Japan next month. They scraped past Argentina last month and then drew 16-16 with South Africa, meaning they have failed to win for two consecutive games.
But despite the All Blacks’ underwhelming performances, Hansen is not overly worried.
“I know the scoreboard’s fairly massive — it’s not often we get that many points scored against us — but it’s 16-12 and we’re in the game at half-time and then Scotty (Barrett) gets sent off,” he said.
“So it’s a different game and I don’t think we can beat ourselves up over the defence in the second half.
“You’ve got to look at the effort and there was plenty of effort. We just played a side that was very good at finding the space.”
Despite downplaying a loss that cost them their Rugby Championship crown, now in the hands of South Africa, New Zealand have plenty to think about with the World Cup just weeks away.
They might have gone into half-time still in the game, but it was the Wallabies who dominated possession and territory, playing at a rapid pace that New Zealand struggled to match.
The All Blacks defence gave away too many penalties, drifted offside and were forced to make the bulk of the tackling.
“Our changing room was very disappointed because of how we performed and that is how it should be,” said Hansen.
“We didn’t perform to the standard that we should have and Australia gave us a lesson in what to do when you have a side down by one man. They made it difficult.
Hansen said the team was looking towards next weekend’s Bledisloe Cup decider.
“It’s a big game,” he added about the Auckland match on Saturday.
“We’re just going to go back and we won’t push the panic button. We’ll push the button that says we’re going to win and get our discipline right, get our game structure right and turn up and play well.”
– Ticket to Auckland –
Michael Cheika’s Wallabies have now won two on the trot after beating Argentina last month to put a spring in their step as the team starts to gel.
They will be desperate to continue their run of form heading into Japan, but winning in Auckland is not something they’re accustomed to.
For the Wallabies to end their 17-year hiatus without the Bledisloe Cup they must win on Saturday. To do so means snapping a losing streak at Eden Park that stretches back to 1986. The All Blacks haven’t lost at the ground since 1994.
Cheika was keen to play down any hype, insisting his team was still a work in progress.
“A few things went our way, but I was really pleased for the lads,” the coach said. “They have been working really hard.
“That’s what we did. Great atmosphere and great for the players to get a win but in the bigger scheme of things, we have got ourselves a ticket to go there and take the opportunity that is going to be given to us.”