The Wallabies almost pulled off the unthinkable in a 16-all draw against the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Wellington.
The Wallabies took the lead inside the final 10 minutes of the game when James O‘Connor slotted a penalty goal, only for New Zealand’s Jordie Barrett to even the scores back up.
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Handed a penalty as time expired but from over 50m out, the Wallabies‘ Reece Hodge almost claimed the game with a thunderous kick that hit the post and set up a frantic eight minutes of injury time.
It was an incredible finish to the game with fans blowing up Twitter with praise after the first Test under new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, as the side went oh so close to ending a 19-year winless drought in New Zealand.
But the game was dragged into controversy from the opening half with Australian touch judge Angus Gardner missing New Zealand‘s Rieko Ioane stepping on the left hand side touch line.
On Angus Gardner's wing… remarkable https://t.co/K8oKkaj1sQ
The All Blacks opened the scoring through Jordie Barrett, but replays showed Ioane stepping on the line in the lead up to the easy Barrett try.
Throughout all the thrills and spills, some fans were also scratching their heads late as questionable ruck infringements weren’t penalise.
One of the clearest came when the All Blacks’ Ardie Savea came in from the side of the ruck.
Former Wallaby Matt Burke was furious at the officiating late, slamming referee Paul Williams.
“He has got to be off-side. Got to be off-side. Oh my goodness,“ Burke said after Hodge‘s fateful kick.
“This refereeing has been terrible. Absolutely terrible. I can‘t believe that Sam Whitelock was onside there. What about this shot.”
On Fox Sports, the opinion was there had to be a penalty for coming in from the side.
In what world is this not a penalty? #NZLvAUS #BledisloeCup pic.twitter.com/QtO9rZhQC8
Also, where was the penalty from 5m directly in front???? #nzlvaus
Staff writer at SA Rugby Magazine Dylan Jack tweeted: “Officials were dreadful in those final 10 minutes. Too scared to make the big call. There must have been about four penalties right in front of the All Blacks’ posts.”
While the opinion may be split depending on which side of the Tasman fans reside, there was plenty of attention on the penalty count throughout the game.
Wallabies conceded 10 penalties after 60 minutes.
The All Blacks have conceded 5.
Breakdown killing the Wallabies, accuracy and timing not right #BledisloeCup
WHAT IS THE PENALTY COUNT against the Wallabies, #FFS?
Penalty count shocking against #Wallabies
Watching Rugby test, go Wallabies! Baffling amount of penalties, let the game flow ref!
It was a 40 year first that Williams, a New Zealander, had refereed a Bledisloe Cup match.
But the next game will be officiated by Gardner, who missed the Ioane call, one of Australia’s best referees.
While the referees could have overshadowed a stunning match, the Aussies weren’t about to make any excuses after the loss.
Paul Williams didn’t have trouble finding his whistle.Source:Getty Images
“We‘re disappointed,” Rennie said in his post-match press conference.
“We‘re certainly not celebrating in the change rooms.
“We‘re miles away from where we need to be. We let ourselves down.
“We found a lot of space in behind them, we had a lot of ball but the quality of our clean-out just wasn‘t good enough and it’s an area we need to be better next week. We gave away 14 penalties and a big chunk of those were post-tackle.”
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