While Warren Gatland was up in the press room accusing the game's referees of showing bias towards the All Blacks, Alun Wyn Jones was emerging from the Welsh dressing room seemingly intent on proving there is another method for handling defeat. It involves looking within rather than without and in this regard the Lions lock was even more brutally frank than his coach.
Jones has already entered Welsh folklore as the man who could have, probably should have, ended the 56-year run of defeats to New Zealand. With three minutes to go, the 24-year-old, standing at 6ft 7in and weighing 19st, picked off a Jimmy Cowan pass just outside his 22 and immortality stretched out in front of him, all the way up to the opposition line. Blame indecision, blame fatigue, blame a lack of self-belief even – but the task was beyond Jones. He admitted as much.
"World-class players finish things like that, and I don't think it was a world-class instance for myself," said Jones as the moment replayed in his mind, with the crowd's desperate urgings still defeaning as the soundtrack. "That will probably be my first and last international interception, and I should have done a lot better. As a player, there are 101 things you can do in that situation. A kick did cross my mind. I turned in, I didn't see their player coming across. If I had gone on the outside I would have probably got a bit further towards the line. I think Shanks [Tom Shanklin] would have got there. Alun Wyn Jones inside is not very happy with what happened."
Jones can even be excused the dreaded third-person reference, as his honesty shone through all the other smokescreens. Wales were not good enough and, in the instant, nor was Jones. He not only blamed himself for that missed opportunity but for the botched lineout on the All Black line in the final moments when, as line-out caller, Jones instructed Huw Bennett to throw long to Bradley Davies. The replacement hooker duly overshot his man.
"Would I do it again? Yes," said Jones. "Should I have backed myself? Yes. Could I have called another five-man lineout? Yes. Was it an individual error? Yes. Was it a poor call? Yes. Will I take responsibility? Yes, that's what international players do. Will I blame anyone? No. All those questions are answered now. It was a critical moment that we didn't nail. We've got to shelve the nearly-men tag and move forward. This was a real opportunity for us."
The last point was the most pertinent. While in public Gatland might have sought to deflect the attention on to Craig Joubert's errors, in private he will not have been so kind to his team. Wales had enough possession; the scrum and lineout went well. They just couldn't create. When they tried to push the ball out wide the New Zealanders waited in numbers. Then would come the breakdown, then would come a turnover and the frustration would grow. If Wales need to learn anything before their next confrontation (with the summer tour they have three All Black rematches in the next 12 months) it will be to negate their strength and savvy in the collision area. They played Joubert well and should not be denigrated for doing so.
Gatland talked about not "getting any of the 50-50 calls". And this precluded his most outrageous claim. "Referees don't want to be involved in upsets," he said. Graham Henry, the opposing coach, had his own say on that accusation. "That's complete rubbish," said Henry. "I don't think Warren really believes that. Warren has said a lot of things this week."
Indeed he did, talking of New Zealand losing their "aura of invincibility" and of being "fallible". To be fair, the Kiwi had every right to feel aggrieved about Dan Carter's high-tackle on Martin Roberts, just as Wales launched their courageous fightback from being 19-6 down and seemingly out after a period of visiting superiority, capped by Andrew Hore's try. But, once again, he pushed his protestations too far. "If that had happened at the other end, then it would have been a penalty and a yellow card," barked Gatland. "It was a head-high tackle. And all the officials missed it."
Few in the crowd did and when Carter was named as man of the match, the announcement was booed. That was a shame as the No 10 was impressive, particularly as he was carrying a calf injury . Yes, Carter should have seen yellow. Instead, Wales ended up seeing black for the 21st Test in succession. Lots and lots of black.
Wales: Penalties Jones (4). New Zealand: Try Hore; Conversion Carter; Penalties Carter (4).
Wales: J Hook (Ospreys); L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), T Shanklin (Blues), J Roberts (Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), G Cooper (Blues); G Jenkins (Blues), M Rees (Scarlets), P James (Ospreys), A W Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Dragons), A Powell (Blues), M Williams (Blues), R Jones (Ospreys, capt). Replacements: M Roberts (Scarlets) for Cooper, 54; H Bennett (Ospreys) for Rees, 60; Du Jones for James (60); B Davies (Blues) for Charteris, 68; Da Jones for Powell (66).
New Zealand: M Muliaina (Chiefs); C Jane (Hurricanes), C Smith (Hurricanes), M Nonu (Hurricanes), Z Guildford (Crusaders); D Carter (Crusaders), B Leonard (Chiefs); W Crockett (Crusaders), A Hore (Hurricanes), N Tialata (Hurricanes), B Thorn (Crusaders), J Eaton (Hurricanes), J Kaino (Auckland Blues), R McCaw (Crusaders), K Read (Crusaders). Replacements: J Cowan (Highlanders) for Leonard, 49; T Donnelly (Highlanders) for Eaton, 54; O Franks (Crusaders) for Crockett, 59; A Thomson (Highlanders) for Read, 65.
Referee: C Joubert (SA).
Carter cited over Roberts high tackle
Dan Carter has been cited for an alleged dangerous tackle on Wales replacement scrum-half Martin Roberts at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Carter will face a hearing in Milan today, where the New Zealand squad has arrived to prepare for the weekend game against Italy. He is due to appear before International Rugby Board-appointed judicial officer Jeff Blackett, who is also the Rugby Football Union's disciplinary officer.
Carter, who was not punished for the offence by match referee Craig Joubert, could receive a minimum one-week ban. Anything more would put his participation against England at Twickenham on 21 November in doubt.
Carter was cited by the Australian match commissioner Scott Nowland. He is the third Kiwi to be cited in a week, following one-week suspensions dished out to wing Sitiveni Sivivatu and prop Tony Woodcock for foul play during the win over Australia in Tokyo.Reuse content