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'It was very clear cut': Ian Foster backs controversial call in Bledisloe clash

By Tom Vinicombe
(Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

The two opposing coaches from Thursday night’s Bledisloe Cup encounter in Melbourne unsurprisingly shared different views of referee Mathie Raynal’s controversial decision in the dying moments of the game.

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With time almost up and the clock and the Wallabies ahead by three, Raynal punished the Wallabies for wasting time after earning a penalty inside their 22, handing a scrum to the All Blacks. Jordie Barrett scored from the set-piece and the All Blacks grabbed a 39-37 victory to a chorus of boos from the naturally partisan crowd.

Speaking to media following the match, Australia coach Dave Rennie said it was a less than satisfactory way to finish what had been a thrilling Test match up to that point – even if it was, to the letter of the law, the correct decision.

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“I haven’t seen a decision like that at any level,” he said. “The rule book’s complex, isn’t it? There’s surely something in there somewhere (but) that is never reffed upon.”

“It’s incredibly disappointing way to finish because down 31-13, down to 13 players, showed a huge amount of character to come back into that game and then get our nose in front. So to lose it, in that fashion, massively disappointing.”

All Blacks coach Ian Foster felt that the Wallabies should have no qualms with the call, given that Raynal repeatedly urged the Australian side to stop wasting time.

“I thought it was very clear cut,” Foster said.

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“They were delaying the kick. He said time off. He warned him then he said time off and then he said to speed up then he said time on. Then he asked him twice to kick it.

“I understand there is a contentious nature about it but it was very clear cut from the opposition.”

Foster also suggested that the Wallabies got away with some hijinks when flyhalf Bernard Foley quickly kicked a conversion following a try to Andrew Kellaway which Foster believed was set to be assessed by the TMO:

“The other one that wasn’t clear cut was when Kellaway scored and the TMO wanted to look at what was a very suspicious forward pass and yet the conversion was allowed to be taken.”

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All Blacks stand-in captain Sam Whitelock admitted he understood the Wallabies’ frustrations with the call.

“I haven’t had that happen to me in a game whether for or against the side I’m playing for,” he said.

“You’ve got to make sure you’ve got a good plan to close out the game whether you’re up by one point or by more.

“Slips [Wallabies captain James Slipper] and I have known each other for a long time and he said ‘Look, we’ve just got to be better than that’, and he’s spot on.

“It’s something that I know that they will review and look at it and they’ll make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

The win in Melbourne ensures the All Blacks will hold onto the Bledisloe Cup for another season and now find themselves in a strong position to claim the Rugby Championship title when they take on the Wallabies at Eden Park next weekend in the final round of action. They now sit five points ahead of the Springboks and Pumas on the overall ladder, although those two sides each boast a game in hand.

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