Hansen admits All Blacks 'gutted' to miss win
The All Blacks were left feeling "hollow" and "gutted" after their record-equalling test win streak came to a limp end on Saturday night at the Olympic stadium.
To that they might have added relieved at escaping with a draw they scarcely deserved.
Truth be told, the All Blacks were fortunate indeed to slip out of Sydney with a 12-12 stalemate that was flattering to them, after being outplayed in the second half by a Wallabies outfit who just weren't good enough to close out a victory that was theirs for the taking.
The draw left both camps feeling frustrated.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said he was disappointed not to have secured the victory they planned for.
"We're out there to win games," he said with his best funeral face.
"It feels a bit like a loss," added Australian skipper Michael Hooper who felt they'd set themselves up for better.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw was struggling to find a bright side after his team's shot at an 18th consecutive test victory foundered on a rainy night in front of 68,627 soggy fans in Homebush. There were shades of Dublin at the end when the All Blacks mounted an attack from deep after the hooter had sounded, but this time there was no miracle finish in conditions and a situation that made risk-taking problematic.
"Certainly there's bit of a hollow feeling," McCaw said.
"You come to win and it didn't happen. We had probably the better part of the first 30 minutes in the first half; then we struggled to play a lot of rugby after that for various reasons.
"It's a bit of a funny feeling. I guess one thing is we get another crack next week, so it will certainly keep some edge on during training."
The All Blacks were blasted off the park by Jaco Peyper's officious refereeing, having to endure 20 minutes a man down after Wyatt Crockett and Beauden Barrett were both sinbinned. They also conceded 13 penalties, to the Wallabies' nine as the South African was brutal on them around the tackle.
But, truth be told, the stats also suggested the All Blacks drew a rabbit out of the hat by finishing on level terms. The Australians won twice as many rucks (99-48), made nearly twice as many carries (120-66), forced the New Zealanders to make twice as many tackles (137 to 68), dominated possession (they had 65 per cent of the pill in the second half) and beat 19 defenders to just seven by their opponents.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen had said his team had highlighted their chance to make history with an 18th consecutive test victory, but wasn't keen to dwell on the lost opportunity afterwards.
It's the second time in recent years an All Black win streak has been cut short by a draw against the Wallabies, following the 18-18 stalemate in Brisbane two years ago that ended a 16-test run.
"The record has been talked about a lot by a lot of people but for us the record is the outcome of winning games," Hansen said.
"How do we feel about not winning the game? Yeah, we're gutted.
"We came here to win, and wherever we go, we go there to win. You saw that in the last minute of the game. We defended, defended and defended, then we get a penalty, and the game is over on the clock, yet we didn't want to kick it out.
"I applaud that within the team because they've got courage to want to play and win and be better than just a draw. That's what makes us proud as coaches when we've got a group who will show that much ticker and still want to try and play and secure the win.
"How do we feel about not getting the record? Well, the same as we do about not winning. It sucks."
Hansen also paid tribute to the competitiveness of a Wallabies team that was a lot better than its dismal record against the All Blacks indicated. They have won just two of their last 21 tests against them.
"Australia have always been a genuine threat," Hansen said. "If you're playing them at marbles they're a genuine threat. They're like us - they love their sport, they're tough competitors, and if you look over the last 11 years I've been here there hasn't been too many easy games.
"Auckland (next Saturday night) will be just the same. We'll prepare accordingly and hopefully get the job done."
Hansen did acknowledge the All Blacks had gone a long way to retaining the Bledisloe Cup, now needing to win just one of the two remaining clashes. They haven't lost a test at Eden Park in 20 years.
"We only have to win one of the next two games we play Australia so I guess that does give us the advantage. But we want to win every game we play, so we'll prepare with that in mind," Hansen said.
The All Blacks will be sweating on injuries to Ma'a Nonu (shoulder) and Jerome Kaino (elbow) ahead of the Auckland rematch next Saturday, while McCaw hopes a stinger to his arm early on won't prove problematic.
The bruises to the ego may take longer to heal.