World media claim All Blacks' were arrogant in huge win over Tonga

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News,
Publish Date
Sunday, 8 September 2019, 5:57PM
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Were the All Blacks arrogant to purposefully play the last 15 minutes of their 92-7 win over Tonga with only 14 men?

That's the question being asked by Fox Sports Australia after All Blacks coach Steve Hansen admitted that he deliberately forced his men to finish the game with 14 players in the final 15 minutes in order to put more pressure on them.

Clearly mindful not to offend Tonga with his comments, Hansen said Ryan Crotty was scheduled to play only 65 minutes on his return to the top level from a broken thumb and that while he could have contrived to have Aaron Smith play on the wing at the end, he was comfortable with a numerical disadvantage.

"Obviously his [Crotty's] welfare was more important and it was a good opportunity again to put ourselves under a bit of pressure when it comes to how many we have on the park.

"We had to make that choice and the score told us we could make that choice with relatively low risk."

But in their report on the All Blacks' win, Fox Sports asked the question which was on the minds of some after the match - were the All Blacks "Arrogant or just plain smart?"

"The All Blacks did it so easy against Tonga that they deliberately finished the game with 14 men," they wrote, writing that it was the only moment of the match where the hosts weren't ruthless.

"Playing with a freedom against hopelessly outclassed opponents, the world champions flexed their attacking muscles ominously."

Wales Online called the move to play with 14 an "interesting decision", noting that the All Blacks had sent a warning to the rest of the rugby world, while others thought the tactic was a smart one, and similar to what they had produced in 2015.

"The tactic was reminiscent of the last World Cup in England when they practised different scenarios in matches throughout the pool phase to ensure they were ready for the knockout games," wrote Reuters.

As for the All Blacks' performance as a whole, "ominous" was the word on the lips of most of the world's media after the dominant win.

Irish website The 42 said that the All Blacks' "Rugby World Cup dress rehearsal was more like a training session as the defending champions demolished Tonga 92-7 in an ominous warning", while Dylan Jack of the SA Rugby Mag wondered how much was gained by the thrashing.

"It is hard to judge what, aside from a massive confidence boost, the New Zealanders really gained from the match as it is unlikely that they will come up against as porous defences as the Tongans' in Hamilton. In fact, the scoreline was so flattering that the All Blacks took centre Ryan Crotty off in the second half and did not replace him, deliberately playing with 14 men when the game was already won."

Elsewhere, the Telegraph wrote that the All Blacks were "keen to send a message" ahead of the World Cup.

"Saturday's match ticked a lot of boxes for All Blacks coach Steve Hansen in terms of gelling some of their attack and giving Ben Smith confidence at full-back after some lacklustre performances on the wing," they wrote.

"The All Blacks are well aware, however, that they are unlikely to get the same amount of time and space against the Springboks."

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission

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