Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says Bernard Foley’s stunning disallowed solo try should have stood, but insisted officials weren’t to blame for their 39-28 defeat to England in Saturday’s thrilling Test series opener.
Despite making a hot start to the match and racing to a 10-0 lead, Australia soon began bogged down in a game of attrition as England ground their old enemies to the bone and then rode five-eighth Owen Farrell’s razor-sharp goalkicking to a historic maiden victory in Brisbane.
But had Foley been rewarded for his brilliant dummy and run through the English defence on the half-hour mark with Australia’s third try of the night, it might have been a different game.
That would have put the home side 15-6 up, but instead the television match official chalked it off due to an obstruction by debutant Rory Arnold – a call that left Cheika shaking his head in the coaches box.
“It’s not obstruction. The guy went to the wrong attacker by his choice,” Cheika said after the game.
“When the referee asks the TMO ‘is there any reason why I can’t award the try?’ the TMO showed the pictures and just said ‘that’s the angle’.
“The TMO didn’t want to give the decision … if he says asks if there is any reason I can’t award the try, it has to be clear.
“But that happens. That’s life. You’ve got to go with the punches.”
The Wallabies were also stung by a lop-sided 15-8 penalty count, with Farrell converting four of those in the first half as England clawed in front.
Cheika said his players lacked conviction at the key moments, giving referee Romain Poite the space to make his interpretations.
“I thought that sometimes we were happy to leave the opportunity for a 50-50 call,” Cheika said.
“If you want to be a winner in a game you can’t play in that zone where you’re happy for there to be a contest.” England coach Eddie Jones refused to comment on the referees.
“I’m old enough now not to worry about referee’s decisions,” he said.
“Last time I did, in Suncorp, I think it cost me $13,000 and I’ve never coached in Australia again and I probably never will.” Cheika said it was inevitable the Wallabies would get some parts of their game wrong in their first Test in seven months.
“I think we get a good handle on what we need to get right for next Saturday and work hard on that,” he said.