Rugby Union

All Blacks duo Malakai Fekitoa and Sam Cane cited after Ireland game

Fekitoa (pictured) was sin-binned  for his high tackle on Simon Zebo, while Cane was merely penalised for his thumping hit on Robbie Henshaw. Picture by PA
Nick Purewal

Malakai Fekitoa and Sam Cane have both been cited for "allegedly tackling an opponent dangerously" during New Zealand's 21-9 victory over Ireland on Saturday.

Referee Jaco Peyper sin-binned Fekitoa for his high tackle on Simon Zebo, while Cane was merely penalised for his thumping hit on Robbie Henshaw.

Leinster centre Henshaw was removed from the field on a stretcher and faces further concussion checks, remaining a doubt ahead of Ireland's final autumn clash with Australia on Saturday.

Fekitoa and Cane will now face disciplinary hearings in the next two days.

A statement from autumn international disciplinary reads: "Sam Cane, the New Zealand flank forward, has been cited for allegedly tackling an opponent dangerously in the 11th minute of the first half of the match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium (Law 10.4 e).

"Malakai Fekitoa, the New Zealand centre, has also been cited, for allegedly tackling an opponent dangerously in the same match (Law 10.4 e)."

The performances of Peyper and television match official (TMO) Jon Mason will come under renewed scrutiny should either Fekitoa or Cane be handed further punishment.

The complexion of Ireland's contest with New Zealand would doubtless have been vastly altered had the back-to-back world champion All Blacks lost one or even two players to red cards.

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt refused to comment on referee Pepyer's performance in the wake of his side's loss in Dublin. But Ireland were clearly frustrated by a number of Peyper's rulings throughout a Test match of the highest ferocity.

Ireland were stunned that New Zealand flanker Cane was merely penalised for his challenge on Henshaw.

"What? A penalty? But the player's on the stretcher," Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton told Peyper on the field.

Captain Rory Best even broke regular protocol in protesting New Zealand's match-sealing try from Fekitoa, by advancing across the tryline to speak with Peyper while Beauden Barrett was preparing for the conversion.

Fekitoa scored two of New Zealand's three tries, with Barrett claiming the other, as New Zealand gained revenge over Ireland for their 40-29 defeat to Joe Schmidt's men in Chicago on November 5.

And fly-half Barrett has revealed New Zealand's "relief" at avenging that Soldier Field defeat.

The world player of the year believes the All Blacks can now set about restoring the lofty standards that secured their record 18-match winning streak.

Barrett's admission underscored Saturday night's tetchy contest, where Ireland could not back up their first-ever win over the All Blacks two weeks on from their historic day in the USA.

"I guess there's a little bit of relief," said Barrett when asked to react to New Zealand's victory.

"It's also satisfaction of getting back to where we were.

"We're getting back to showing how much it means to us through our actions, and doing the jersey justice. That's what it was all about."

Ireland lost Johnny Sexton to a hamstring issue, while CJ Stander and Rob Kearney are further doubts after receiving concussion checks.

New Zealand's Ben Smith suffered a compound fracture of the finger, and Cane sustained an ankle issue.

All Blacks boss Hansen has opted not to call in any replacements ahead of the final tour match against France in Paris on Saturday.

Barrett insisted New Zealand had not strayed over the line with their physicality, in what wound up as a ferocious Test match.

"It's hard getting that balance but our intent was we wanted to be physical," said Barrett.

"Technique may have let us down a couple of times with the yellow cards, but it's up to the referee to make those decisions.

"It was more attitude and intent. Our actions were the biggest focus.

"The game and the way we play the game happens if we get that first bit right.

"I was pleased with how we turned up."

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