Henry: scrum law fiasco ruining game

NEW ZEALAND coach Graham Henry claims uncertainty over scrum laws is ruining the game for spectators after watching his second-string side labour to victory over Italy at the San Siro on Saturday.

NEW ZEALAND coach Graham Henry claims uncertainty over scrum laws is ruining the game for spectators after watching his second-string side labour to victory over Italy at the San Siro on Saturday.

Italy felt they should have had a penalty try in the closing stages after several scrums near the New Zealand line, but referee Stuart Dickinson refused to give it, prompting Henry to attempt to deflect attention away from an apparent weak link in his side’s armour.

“I think there needs to be total clarity over what is required in the scrum. There’s a grey area,” Henry said. “It’s getting worse. It is spoiling the game as a spectacle. The last five minutes were a farce. For the good of the game we need clarity. At the moment I don’t think there is. It’s causing frustration for the guys who play the game and the people watching.”

Italy coach Nick Mallett had a very different view, insisting a northern hemisphere referee would have given the scrum more respect. “Maybe the southern hemisphere countries have to look at the scrum,” he said. “In the northern hemisphere there is more respect and attention for the set scrum.”

Luke McAlister slotted five penalties and Corey Flynn scored a first-half try as the All Blacks extended their 100% run against Italy with an 11th win.

The Azzurri replied with two Craig Gower penalties, but despite a ferocious forward effort and numerous collapsed All Blacks scrums in the latter stages, the hosts could not breach the visitors’ line.

Rugby took centre stage in front of 77,000 fans at the home of AC Milan and Inter and Italy drew first blood through a Gower penalty.

But Luke McAlister replied with two for the Blacks before a flowing move freed debutant Tamati Ellison, before the ball was recycled for Sitiveni Sivivatu and the wing fed hooker Flynn to touch down in the corner.

McAlister’s boot kept the Italians at bay, but despite the late scrum drama they couldn’t get the try they craved.

Graham Henry’s side meet England at Twickenham next Saturday before facing France and the Barbarians.

Scorers for Italy: C Gower 2 pens.

Scorers for New Zealand: C Flynn try; L McAlister 5 pens.

ITALY: L McLean; K Robertson, G Canale, G Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco; C Gower, T Tebaldi; S Perugini, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni; C Del Fava, Q Geldenhuys; A Zanni, Mauro Bergamasco, S Parisse (capt).

Replacements: S Picone for Tebaldi (60), I Rouyet for Perugini (60), F Ongaro for Castrogiovanni (64), A Pavanello for Del Fava (58), S Favaro for Zanni (67).

NEW ZEALAND: C Jane; B Smith, T Ellison, L McAlister, S Sivivatu; M Delany, A Ellis; W Crockett, C Flynn, N Tialata; T Donnelly, A Boric; L Messam, T Latimer, R So’oialo.

Replacements: S Donald for Delany (67), J Cowan for Ellis (60), J Afoa for Crockett (60).

Referee: S Dickinson (Australia).

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