All Blacks

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD KNOWLER

ANOTHER test, more con­tro­versy.

The French re­ally do have rea­son to feel they have been ripped off dur­ing this three-test se­ries in New Zealand.

The lat­est in­jus­tice – at Forsyth Barr Sta­dium last night, won 49-14 by the All Blacks to sweep the se­ries – will once again force howls of out­rage from those who be­lieve the All Blacks earn far more favours from the of­fi­cials.

The All Blacks were far too good, with left wing Rieko Ioane scor­ing three of their seven tries, but you had to feel a large de­gree of sym­pa­thy for Les Bleus.

This time the vil­lain for France was John Lacey, an ex­pe­ri­enced ref­eree.

The Ir­ish­man made a dread­ful howler when he pre­vented re­place­ment French half­back Bap­tiste Serin from tack­ling first five-eighth Damian McKen­zie as he raced on to a flat pass by his half­back Aaron Smith from a scrum in the 32nd minute.

The try, con­verted by McKen­zie, put the All Blacks ahead 21-14 and the score­board didn’t change be­fore the half­time break.

Hav­ing ear­lier lost cap­tain and No 9 Mor­gan Parra with con­cus­sion, the French ral­lied bravely and forced the men in black to scram­ble fran­ti­cally in de­fence. Then Lacey got things wrong badly wrong.

That Lacey blocked Serin wasn’t the big­gest crime. No, what be­mused the 27,800 fans at the ground was the fact he al­lowed the try to stand af­ter a quick look at the re­play.

Prior to this match tight­head prop Uini Ato­nio protested that the French had been at a dis­ad­van­tage dur­ing this tour; Ato­nio reck­oned it was an un­even con­test – 16 on 15, as he put it.

You can bet he won’t be chang­ing his tune af­ter this fix­ture, either.

The back­ground to this lat­est blun­der, of course, has been a colour­ful one; there are red-faces all over the shop. Last week­end

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