The All Blacks have been savaged by their own country’s media after suffering a shock loss to the Wallabies in the fourth and final Bledisloe Cup Test.
Saturday night’s clash in Brisbane produced two red cards, two yellow cards, and plenty of niggle as tempers threatened to boil over.
The Wallabies came away with a 24-22 win, leaving a number of Kiwi journos seething.
“The defeat in Brisbane was as much attributable to the All Blacks’ mental weakness as it was the Wallabies physical resurrection,” wrote NZ Herald writer Gregor Paul.
“A team that was once the envy of the world in the way they coped with pressure is now prone to melting down in spectacular fashion when they get the first sniff of things not going their way.”
Richard Knowler of Stuff lambasted the All Blacks’ lack of discipline.
“(All Blacks coach Ian Foster) has to address the issue of discipline when players are provoked; the Wallabies went out to niggle, needle and taunt the All Blacks, and as hooker Codie Taylor later ruefully reflected, they made the mistake of ‘feeding the beast’,” Knowler wrote.
“While having tighthead prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi red-carded for making contact with Wallabies wing Tom Wright’s head in the first half was undoubtedly a major blow, Foster would have also been frustrated lock Scott Barrett gave referee Nic Berry reason to yellow card him for playing the ball on the ground in the final quarter.
“Barrett probably thought he was only going to risk being penalised and rolled the dice; instead he got 10 minutes in the sin bin, and during his absence, the Wallabies surged down the home straight to secure victory.”
While Chris Rattue of The NZ Herald took aim at Foster’s team selections.
“The arrogance which initially gripped New Zealand Rugby this year, in its international dealings, took hold around the All Blacks’ selection table last week,” wrote Rattue.
“And Ian Foster paid the price, suffering his first defeat as All Black head coach. He deserved it.
“From the heights of Sydney, and the securing of the Bledisloe Cup yet again, the All Black bosses had a brain fade this week.
“Rather than tweak a highly successful side allowing promising combinations to build while rewarding star performers, they threw all of the pieces in the air and went with wherever they landed.”
All Blacks coach frustrated with ill-discipline
Red cards handed to All Blacks prop Tu'ungafasi and Wallabies debutant Lachie Swinton stole the headlines immediately after the match.
But a late cynical foul from lock Scott Barrett seemed to irk Foster just as much.
Barrett was handed a yellow card in the 68th minute when he knocked the ball out of the hands of Nic White as the Wallabies halfback was preparing to pass from a ruck.
“In the second half we weren’t as disciplined as we needed to be,” Foster said on Sunday after having time to digest the game.
“We were being pushed in the areas and provoked in the areas, and again that’s a tactic that teams use against us, and good on them.
“We've got to be better than that and smarter than that.
“We gave away some kickable penalties. And then that yellow was sort of on top of that and probably just reflected a little bit of frustration when there didn't need to be any frustration.”
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.