Wallabies playmaker Bernard Foley believes Henry Speight’s controversial disallowed try should have stood, but it wasn’t the ‘game changer’ in a 37-10 Bledisloe Cup loss.
Foley handed off the pass to Speight that resulted in the potential try, before being disallowed after Dane Haylett-Petty collided with Julian Savea in pursuit of Speight.
“I think it was disappointing not to score,” Foley said.
“We probably assumed it was going to be a try and Nigel [referee Nigel Owens] said, he just went through the process of the TMO, referred it, so therefore it was out of his hands.
“It’s pivotal but in saying that it wasn’t the reason we lost the game.
“We didn’t lose by seven points, so you can’t say it was the game changer.”
There has been conjecture around the rules on shepherding since the controversial incident and Foley said he felt Haylett-Petty was trying to put himself in a spot to aid Speight, not block Savea.
Under World Rugby's Law 10.1, 'a player must not intentionally move or stand in a position that prevents an opponent from tackling a ball carrier', which Haylett-Petty was deemed to have done.
“My understanding is you can’t change your line to purposely try to get in the way or obstruct a player but I think watching it Dane was just trying to get into a support ride,” Foley said.
“He was hustling to get on the outside of Henry if Henry was to get tackled.
“It’s hard to judge and I didn’t think that it was going to have an effect on the outcome of the try but in saying that it was judged against us.
Foley didn’t have a chance to take a quick conversion and avoid a review, something his opposite number Aaron Cruden did 10 minutes later, not realising there was an issue in the lead up.
“I had no idea [anything was wrong],” he said.
“I was not sure and I don’t think the ref was, He was happy with it.
“It doesn’t come into contention too often where you have to try and take the kick [quickly] … it’s not a great look for the sport but if there is something contentious and you do it, you’re doing it for your team and to get the right outcome.”
While the Speight try may have been an opportunity stolen from the Wallabies, Foley said their inability to pile on points with a weight of possession on their side in the first half was the most frustrating part of the defeat.
“I think that was probably the most disappointing facet of the game that we had a lot of chances, a lot of opportunity, a lot of possession and territory in the right end of the field and we just lacked that execution or were just unable to get that last pass to stick and to score that try,” he said.
“That’s crucial – wherever you get opportunities against a team like the All Blacks, you have to take them, you have to make those opportunities count and credit to them, they defended quite well and scrambled well.
“[They] were able to limit us to 10 points when we probably should have scored a few more.”
It might not have shown on the scoreboard, but the Wallabies attack looked the best it has for much of this year, a positive sign heading into a five-week Spring Tour.
“It’s something that we’ve definitely been working on, I think we’ve been persisting with.” he said.
“Last night it was pleasing that we persisted with that shape and we were able to create a lot of opportunities.”
The Wallabies will convene in Sydney this week ahead of their departure for Europe on Friday, with the squad for Spring Tour to be announced on Monday.