Eye-gouging accusations sour All Blacks win over Australia
WELLINGTON – Accusations of eye gouging by All Blacks prop Owen Franks soured their 29-9 victory over Australia in the Rugby Championship on Saturday, which also ensured the world champions retained the Bledisloe Cup.
Video of Franks appearing to gouge Wallabies lock Kane Douglas during a maul early in the match at Wellington Regional Stadium emerged on social media after the niggly game.
“We saw it at the time,” Wallabies coach Michael Cheika told reporters. “I’m sure the match review (officer) will pick that up. It was pretty open, it would be pretty hard for the match review guy to miss.”
The incident was one of numerous occasions when both teams pushed the boundaries of the law, with referee Romain Poite struggling at times to control tempers from boiling over.
The Wallabies had been hammered 42-8 last week in Sydney as the All Blacks moved the ball at high pace with near flawless execution and the Australian side had been pilloried by their media and fans for that “Bledi-awful” loss.
On Saturday, Cheika’s side were more confrontational and got into the All Blacks’ collective faces to ensure they did not suffer humiliation for a second successive week.
The visitors were physical, with rookie lock Adam Coleman at the centre of many of the scuffles, including several confrontations with Brodie Retallick and hooker Dane Coles.
“Perhaps we let it get to us a little bit in the first half. There was quite a bit of niggle out there,” All Blacks captain Kieran Read said.
“I suppose you expect that in a high pressure game.” While the scoreline was not as emphatic as last week, it was more than enough to send the Wallabies to a sixth successive loss.
The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy, since 2003 and only had to draw in Wellington to ensure it stayed locked in New Zealand Rugby’s trophy cabinet for another season. The Wallabies, however, managed to slow the pace of the All Blacks’ game with negative tactics. -Reuters