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All Blacks and Wallabies coaches disagree on Sam Whitelock's 'peculiar' try

By Tom Vinicombe
Sam Whitelock. (Photo by Greg Bowker/Getty Images)

While the margin in the second Bledisloe Cup match of 2022 meant there was little chance of too much refereeing controversy after the game, at least compared to last week’s showdown in Melbourne, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a point of contention among the two coaches.

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With the All Blacks in the lead 17-0 at halftime, a try to Sam Whitelock almost immediately after the break effectively ended any chance of a Wallabies comeback.

After some repeated assaults on the goal line, the All Blacks captain eventually crashed his way over the line but it appeared that he may have lost the ball over the chalk with replacement Wallabies prop Angus Bell trying his best to disrupt.

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Referee Andrew Brace awarded the try and although he referred it upstairs to the TMO, there was no conclusive evidence that Whitelock had ceded possession.

Speaking to media after the match, Wallabies coach Dave Rennie indicated he was far from convinced that Whitelock had got the ball down – but also suggested it wasn’t a major factor in the comprehensive 40-14 result.

“It looked dodgy to me but the ref called a try on the field, they couldn’t see anything to overrule it,” Rennie said. “Not convinced it was a defining moment.”

All Blacks coach Ian Foster took a different view:

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“I don’t think they could believe that old gadget arms could hold onto the ball and the different angles he had it at – and he did,” Foster said. “So, to be fair to the ref and the TMO, it looked a little bit peculiar, didn’t it? But the big mitt hung onto the ball.”

Whitelock himself said that although he “got caught in a tricky situation”, he had grounded the ball.

Despite Rennie’s reservations about the Whitelock try, he acknowledged that it’s a challenging time to be a referee at present and reaffirmed that the issues the Wallabies had on Saturday night were entirely of their own making.

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“I just reckon it’s such a tough game to referee at the moment,” he said. “The game takes forever to play because you have a TMO chipping in as well. It’s messy, isn’t it? It’s not a great product.

“Look, you’ve just got to take it on the chin. We weren’t good enough tonight and we’re not looking to blame the officials.”

The All Blacks and Wallabies will now both take a few weeks break before departing on their trips north.

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