Stephen Ferris has expressed his dismay that New Zealand escaped punishment for their play at the breakdown in the 38-18 victory over Ireland on Saturday.
"Streetwise" is the term used to describe the All Blacks' mastery of slowing down opposition ball, yet rivals often question how they evade greater censure from referees. That sense of injustice lingered at the Aviva Stadium where Ireland's final-quarter siege was repeatedly undermined by the grand slam-chasing tourists' unwillingness to concede quick ball.
Even when a yellow card seemed inevitable, referee Marius Jonker refused to fill the sin-bin, leaving Ferris to admire and resent in equal measure the New Zealanders' adeptness at spoiling. "If I'd been a referee I would have handed out a couple of yellow cards," said the Lions blindside flanker, a try-scorer in the first half.
"It's hard because when you're in the middle of the pitch you get fast ball, but when you're in their 22 it keeps getting killed. It's the same old faces that are doing it, but they're good at it and get away with it. Richie McCaw did a great job at slowing it down. Peter Stringer was screaming at the referee a couple of times to try and get the ball away quicker. It's frustrating, but they're also good at poaching the ball legally."
Jonker's refusal to reach for his cards hardly affected the outcome, however. Two tries in four minutes by Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock shortly after half-time gave the All Blacks an unassailable 33-13 lead.
Ireland's response was to rattle the tourists, with Brian O'Driscoll's sensational one-handed pick-up and finish rewarding their endeavour. It was probably their best display of a troubled year yet they still fell well short of a first victory in the fixture in 24 attempts.
Scorers: Ireland: Tries Ferris, O'Driscoll Conversions Sexton Penalties Sexton 2. New Zealand: Tries Boric, Read 2, Whitelock Conversions Carter 3 Penalties Carter 4.Reuse content