NEW Zealand’s rugby royalty heaped praise on the Wallabies and said they “deserved to win” in Dunedin as it emerged the winning play by the All Blacks began with an apparent knock-on.
Footage appeared to show Kiwi skipper Kieran Read knocking the ball on in the final restart of the game in the 77th minute, but it was ruled as a knock-on by Australia. It allowed the All Blacks to set up in the Wallabies’ 22 and score the winning try.
Only last month the Kiwis were outraged when the Lions won the second Test in Wellington after a contentious ruling in the visitors’ favour from a contentious off-side at a restart in the dying minutes.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was fuming with referee Nigel Owens post-match, believing his team had been dudded on several calls.
He was particularly riled by the failure of match officials to take action over Brodie Retallick spearing Ned Hanigan into the turf in the 23rd minute.
Match officials reviewed the matter hastily, and using only long distance camera angles, before deciding it was an accident as they both tried to get up. Footage shows Retallick’s arm in between Hanigan’s legs at all times.
“Just as well he didn’t break his neck,” Cheika said post-match.
Cheika’s agitated mood was at odds with many people after the thrilling Bledisloe Cup game, which Kiwi television commentators rated as one of the best Tests ever played.
Speaking on the post-match panel for Sky TV, legendary All Black Sir John Kirwan said the Wallabies were “brilliant”.
“Tonight was probably harder than last week because they deserved to win tonight,” Kirwan said.
“What I loved about it, Folau and Genia were outstanding. The defence was superb. We made a lot of errors because they were getting off the line and hitting us hard. A great performance from them.”
Former All Black flanker Scott Robertson, who coached the Crusaders to the Super Rugby title this year, was equally impressed with Australia.
“What a comeback in a week,” Robertson said.
“They were smart and they showed a lot of heart. I think that’s the biggest thing. Structurally they were incredible. They were bang-on for a majority of the game.”
Former All Blacks’ five-eighth Andrew Merhtens said it was a game-changing effort needed for Australian rugby.
“It wasn’t the result they wanted, they wanted to win. But it was the performance they needed,” he said.
“They showed heart and guts and other body parts you associate with grittiness, digging it in and performing and they came out there and did that.”
Former All Black fullback Jeff Wilson said the Wallabies were “outstanding”.
“But I just saw Michael Cheika and he was by himself as his team was walking away and he said they don’t want to be the gallant loser,” Wilson said.
“They don’t want to be that. He was bitterly, bitterly disappointed they didn’t find a way to get across the line.”
Rugby: The All Blacks have retained the Bledisloe Cup with a thrilling 35-29 win over the Wallabies.
All Blacks retain Bledisloe
Interviewed post-match, reserve All Blacks playmaker Lima Sopoaga also applauded the Wallabies when asked why the Kiwis were rattled and making mistakes throughout the game.,
“You have to give credit to Australia. They came and they played like their life was on the line tonight,” Sopoaga said.
“You saw out there it was a great spectacle, a great game and we’re just lucky we got home and the Bledisloe stays in New Zealand for another year.”
Source: sports dailytelegraph