Australia coach Robbie Deans admitted his team were their own worst enemies during yesterday's heavy Bledisloe Cup loss to New Zealand in Melbourne.
Having made a dream start when Drew Mitchell crossed for the opening try in the eighth minute, the Wallabies came crashing back to reality as the Kiwis ran in four unanswered tries before the break.
And when Mitchell was sent off by South African referee Craig Joubert in the 43rd minute after being shown a second yellow card for deliberately slowing down play, victory was all but assured for the visitors.
‘The little things are important in Test rugby and we gave them a lot of assistance all night,’ an emotional Deans lamented after the 49-28 loss.
‘We didn't have any consistent possession in the first half and that was a big contributing factor to our circumstance, and obviously playing with less than 15 men for the greater part of the game compounded that.
‘A lot of our challenge in the game was a lot of little stuff. You know a charge down immediately after a charge down and score is the sort of stuff that's so easily averted. And that's the sort of detail we've got to master if you want to prevail.’
Asked his thoughts on the Mitchell red card, a clearly unimpressed Deans conceded: ‘It was damaging. I don't want to comment on the decision, I mean the decision was made and we suffered the consequence.’
Pressed on his thoughts of Mitchell's actions after the winger foolishly slapped the ball out of a New Zealander's hands after the whistle had already been blown, Deans said: ‘Costly. It's the only way you'd describe it.’
But, while disappointed at having suffered an eighth consecutive loss at the hands of the All Blacks, Deans took some comfort out of his team's second-half effort.
‘Once we went to 14 men we were playing for pride I guess, because there was the potential there for it to blow out,’ he said.
‘The boys showed a lot of courage to essentially win the second half up until the last score, I think it was 17-14 the second-half score and, under the circumstances where we had 14 men playing against the All Blacks, it could have been worse.
‘But essentially the contest was over in many ways at that point.
‘Obviously it wasn't the ideal circumstance going into half-time, without a doubt, but we showed that with 15 men we can be competitive because with 14 men we were.
‘We get an opportunity next week in Christchurch and you keep going and try to find some solutions.’
In contrast, All Blacks coach Graham Henry was understandably delighted with his team's performance.
‘Obviously we're very pleased with the way the guys played,’ he enthused.
‘To score seven tries against Australia in Australia is a great performance really and I think
that's a record since 1937... before the war anyway, so we're very pleased with that.
‘I thought there was some scintillating rugby and I'm sure the people that watched it would have been pleased to watch the game, and I think both sides contributed to that.
‘The Australians went down to 14 players and that seems to be par for the course these days, but they never gave up - they actually played better when they had 14 than when they had 15.
‘So in summary it was a very pleasing performance.’
Asked if Deans would be feeling the pressure after another disappointing result against his countrymen, Henry quipped: ‘What do you think? It's a pretty obvious question and a pretty obvious answer. I think they're under a lot of heat and that's just the nature of international sport I guess.
‘If I had eight losses in a row I'd find that very difficult to handle to be frank.’