Reuters

All Blacks prop Franks accused of eye gouging as New Zealand beat Australia

All Blacks prop Franks accused of eye gouging as New Zealand beat Australia
By Reuters

27/08/2016 at 13:07

Accusations of eye gouging by All Blacks prop Owen Franks soured their 29-9 victory over Australia in the Rugby Championship on Saturday, which also ensured the world champions retained the Bledisloe Cup.

Video of Franks appearing to gouge Wallabies lock Kane Douglas during a maul early in the match at Wellington Regional Stadium emerged on social media after the niggly game.

"We saw it at the time," Wallabies coach Michael Cheika told reporters. "I'm sure the match review (officer) will pick that up.

"It was pretty open, it would be pretty hard for the match review guy to miss."

The incident was one of numerous occasions when both teams pushed the boundaries of the law, with referee Romain Poite struggling at times to control tempers from boiling over.

The Wallabies had been hammered 42-8 last week in Sydney as the All Blacks moved the ball at high pace with near flawless execution and the Australian side had been pilloried by their media and fans for that "Bledi-awful" loss.

On Saturday, Cheika's side were more confrontational and got into the All Blacks' collective faces to ensure they did not suffer humiliation for a second successive week.

The visitors were physical, with rookie lock Adam Coleman at the centre of many of the scuffles, including several confrontations with Brodie Retallick and hooker Dane Coles.

Israel Dagg - All Blacks v Australia, Bledisloe Cup

Israel Dagg - All Blacks v Australia, Bledisloe CupReuters

"Perhaps we let it get to us a little bit in the first half. There was quite a bit of niggle out there," All Blacks captain Kieran Read said.

"I suppose you expect that in a high pressure game."

While the scoreline was not as emphatic as last week, it was more than enough to send the Wallabies to a sixth successive loss.

The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy, since 2003 and only had to draw in Wellington to ensure it stayed locked in New Zealand Rugby's trophy cabinet for another season.

The Wallabies, however, managed to slow the pace of the All Blacks' game with negative tactics.

The ploy worked to an extent, the All Blacks leading only 15-9 at halftime courtesy of two tries by Israel Dagg and a conversion and penalty from Beauden Barrett. Bernard Foley (two) and Reece Hodge kicked penalties for the visitors.

Coleman did earn the ire of Poite when he received a yellow card for a late charge, though the All Blacks did not take advantage of the extra man.

Winger Julian Savea gave the hosts breathing space just after Coleman returned early in the second half when Barrett's blistering pace exploited space in the Wallabies defence before Sam Cane grabbed New Zealand's fourth try.

"They (Australia) have copped a fair bit of criticism back home," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said. "So they were going to come and bring whatever they had to bring and they did that."

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