All Black Hore escapes with five-game ban

NEW Zealand hooker Andrew Hore has escaped a lengthy ban for striking Wales lock Bradley Davies off the ball last Friday at the Millenium Stadium, but will still miss Saturday’s clash against England.

Hore has been widely condemned for the incident, which occurred barely 30 seconds into the All Blacks’ 33-10 victory, but was yesterday handed only a five-week ban for the hit that left Davies hospitalised with concussion.

The 34-year-old faced an eight-week suspension for a top-end offence but, after his disciplinary record and remorse was taken into account, the ban was reduced.

New Zealand’s trip to Twickenham on Saturday is their last match of the year and therefore the ban will run until mid-February, when Hore will miss the first three pre-season matches for his club side the Highlanders.

Referee Craig Joubert and his assistants missed the incident, prompting former Wales captain Jonathan Davies to call for video evidence to be used during matches to help officials immediately catch acts of serious foul play.

“How long will it be before the fourth official can come in and say ‘Right cheap shot, red card’? We have to clean the game up,” said Davies, who described Hore’s hit as a “cowardly assault”.

Bradley Davies has received an apology from Hore since Friday, alongside texts and calls checking up on his wellbeing.

“It is nice to hear Andrew express remorse for Bradley,” said All Black assistant coach Ian Foster. “Andrew has been suspended at the high level but he’s accepted responsibility, he has more than 300 first-class games, he’s been a leader and his character over that time period has been exemplary. This one incident he has accepted, he has fronted up for it and he has been punished.”

England head coach Stuart Lancaster will name his starting line-up today as he looks to bounce back from narrow defeats to Australia and South Africa in the past fortnight.

New Zealand have not lost to England since 2003, when the Red Rose went on to lift the World Cup.

Lancaster has lost fly-half Toby Flood to a toe injury, with Saracens No10 Owen Farrell expected to start in his place.