Ian Foster’s first win as All Blacks head coach may have slipped through the fingers of centre Rieko Ioane but Foster is refusing to blame the “sloppy” error as the primary reason for New Zealand’s 16-16 draw with Australia in a tense opening Bledisloe Cup test.
Starting in the No. 13 jersey, Ioane butchered a certain try when he failed to ground the ball on the stroke of halftime in wet conditions at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Sunday afternoon.
Up 8-3 at the time thanks to an early try to right wing Jordie Barrett, Ioane looked set to double the All Blacks’ lead from a sweeping counter-attack, only for the ball to slip through his fingers as he performed his trademark one-handed dive across the try-line.
Referee Paul Williams was wise to go upstairs for a closer look and on second glance television match official Mike Fraser deemed Ioane had failed to control the ball in the act of scoring, although there was a hint that he still managed to get a finger on it. The try was subsequently ruled out.
Ioane was dragged after 56 minutes, replaced by Anton Lienert-Brown.
“He’s feeling pretty frustrated with himself but it is what it is,” Foster lamented. “It’s one of those little lessons that players have to go through and I thought he had a reasonably strong game apart from that.
“That’s why they call them test matches because you’ve got to take those little moments and when you get a little sloppy in those moments it can come back and bite you.
“You don’t dwell on errors in test matches – there were a lot of errors before that and there were a lot of errors after that. It certainly would’ve been nice but it’s not the reason we drew.”
Wallabies burnt by missed call on opening try
Ioane’s error proved costly. The Wallabies stormed back into the game thanks to second half tries to wingers Marika Koroibete, and Filipo Daugunu, and Dave Rennie’s side had a chance to claim their first win against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil since 2001 when substitute Reece Hodge lined up an ambitious 54-metre penalty on fulltime, only for his long-range attempt to crash against the upright.
That sparked a hectic five-minute period, with the All Blacks turning down an easy chance at a drop goal in search of a game-winning try that never materialised.