All Blacks assistant rugby coach Steve Hansen fired back at his old sparring partner Robbie Deans today after the frustrated Wallabies coach accused their opponents of cynical play not befitting the occasion.
The All Blacks' 32-19 win at Tokyo's National Stadium last night made it seven in a row against Deans' Wallabies, equalling the trans-Tasman winning streak of the 1995-97 side and behind only the nine consecutive New Zealand wins between 1936-49.
Something had to give for Deans after his side's much-improved effort, and he eyed up the All Blacks' tactics at the breakdown.
"Can anyone tell me what the penalty count was?," he volunteered.
The answer was 13-9 to the Wallabies, which included five to the Australians in the first 10 minutes from referee Mark Lawrence.
"I know the first six penalties, four were in the red zone and there probably should have been a couple of others when balls were lifted out of rucks one metre short of the line.
"That's frustrating from our perspective. Particularly when you're playing a fixture in Tokyo when you're trying to promote the game, I don't think it contributed well to the game.
"Our discipline was pretty good, particularly under the circumstances."
Former Canterbury teammates Deans and Hansen could hardly be described as close mates in recent years and Hansen was quick to counter today.
"Thirteen and nine is not a big amount of penalties, and I don't think Rob can complain too much when we kicked six penalties ourselves," Hansen said.
"It was a very contestable game at the breakdown and when you get games like that you're going to get penalties, and get people off their feet.
"Both sides were guilty of it, as the penalties on the scoreboard showed."
There were several scuffles as the Wallabies appeared frustrated.
The most serious was in the 80th minute when Tony Woodcock whacked George Smith, which later saw the All Blacks prop get a one-match ban.
The Wallabies started strongly and made big strides at the breakdown and the scrum following their limp 6-33 defeat in Wellington in September.
Again, they rued a lack of finishing, without injured frontline centres Berrick Barnes and Stirling Mortlock, against some staunch All Blacks defence.
Their only try went to winger Peter Hynes, a tight video referee's call when his opposite Sitiveni Sivivatu was in the sinbin.
That broke Australia's 270-minute tryscoring drought against the All Blacks, but they could not add to that while their opponents scored well-taken tries to Sivivatu and Conrad Smith.
"We got in the opposition 22m in the first half a number of times and when the ball is killed when we had opportunities to play wide and all we can take is three points rather than seven, that had a huge bearing," said Wallabies playmaker Matt Giteau, who kicked five from six attempts.
Deans' side now leave for England for a quick backup on Wednesday morning (NZT) against Gloucester before facing Jonny Wilkinson and England at Twickenham next weekend.
He bemoaned their side's poor lineout and finishing, but was otherwise happy.
"It was a better effort in terms of intensity and physicality. We were better around the breakdown.
"We built a lot of pressure but came short on a number of occasions, which is that finishing touch that we're looking for."
Who was the best-performed All Blacks forward on the northern tour?