All Blacks did not deserve win, says coach
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen admitted the better team probably lost after a last-gasp Dan Carter drop goal gave his side a 22-19 victory over Ireland in Christchurch on Saturday.
Ireland, meanwhile, rued giving away a scrum penalty in the dying minutes — while on attack and with the score locked at 19-all — and allowing the All Blacks to gain field position for Carter’s match-winning kick.
The nail-biting finish gave the All Blacks an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-Test series and kept their record of never losing to Ireland intact.
“It’s a game we probably shouldn’t have won,” admitted Hansen, who could not hide his frustration at the All Blacks’ performance.
“Although we may well have thought we prepared really well, I don’t think we have on reflection because you don’t give away stupid penalties like we did if you’re in the right zone.
“Clearly, we made too many errors and the ones that frustrated the most were the silly penalties.
“But we showed some really special character to hang in and win the game with a drop goal.”
The All Blacks were not only down a man for the last 10 minutes with fullback Israel Dagg in the sin bin, but injuries had also reduced them to only two loose forwards, captain Richie McCaw and 20-year-old debutant Sam Cane.
“The thing was to stay calm,” McCaw said of the way the team handled the pressure.
“When there’s time left on the clock you’ve got to keep believing. You don’t want to try and do it yourself and the message was to keep believing in the plan.
“We got down the right end of the field, we got a scrum five (metres) out and we went to what we needed to get the win.”
The even-mannered approach impressed rookie Cane, who was thrust into his first Test unexpectedly at half-time when backrower Kieran Read confessed to dizzy spells following a head knock.
“The calmness of the old hands Richie, DC (Dan Carter) and Tony Woodcock made it easier for me,” he said of the tension in the closing stages.
In a match where the momentum see-sawed throughout, Ireland ran up a 10-0 lead before Carter landed three penalties to close the gap to 10-9 by half-time.
A try to scrum-half Aaron Smith converted by Carter immediately after the break put the All Blacks in front for the first time.
Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton then landed three more penalties and Carter one, to bring the score at 19-all.
Sexton had a chance to win the game himself but missed a long range shot before Carter settled the outcome, to the delight of the packed 21,000-seat stadium and to ease the pressure on coach Hansen.
Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll struggled to come to terms with the way his side went from being on level terms and with a chance of a historic win to giving away a scrum penalty which led to their defeat.
“They were a man down. It’s difficult to see all the positives,” he said.
“We just had to keep the pressure on and continue to try and play positive football and obviously the decision on the scrum was a big one, it gave them field position and gave them an opportunity to have pop at goal.
“We’ll definitely rue the thought that maybe we just needed to play a little bit smarter in clearing at that scrum.”