'Disappointed' Cheika not hunting for positives

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika wasn’t looking on the bright side after a 35-29 loss to the All Blacks, disappointed in defeat and taking a swipe at a refereeing decision.

The Wallabies were on the wrong end of the penalty count at Forsyth Barr, 12-5, mainly due to the All Blacks’ scrum dominance, but Cheika felt the rub of the green went the All Blacks’ way at critical times.

Asked what specific incidents he felt may have gone unfairly the All Blacks’ way, Cheika pointed to a moment in the 23rd minute between All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick and Wallabies flanker Ned Hanigan.

Hanigan appeared to be lifted above the horizontal by Retallick as he stood up from a ruck, with TMO Rowan Kitt calling the play back to review the entanglement.

Kitt reviewed the situation at the time but both he and referee Nigel Owens said the pair were tangled together as they stood up from the ground, with no ‘clear and obvious foul play’ involved.

Cheika, however, saw it differently.

“I have to tread lightly here,” he said.

“Number one I can say, because it was clear to everyone, is (Brodie Retalllick) has picked one of our blokes up and put him on his head.

“Categorically. He has his arm through his leg and picked him up. And it's a free pass.

“The guy can't end up on his head any other way but then it's a freebie.

“Just as well he didn't break his neck.”

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper was obviously angry at the decision during the match, asking Owens, “So, we're allowed to lift their legs above their shoulders?” after Retallick went unpunished.

Though the 35-29 loss will have generated some much-needed positivity among Australian fans, who have been baying for blood during the week, but Cheika wasn’t buying into the honourable defeat theory.

“I am always proud and pleased with the team,” he said.

“Even last week when it was harder to be proud, because I see what they're doing off the field.

“I know chaps are throwing eggs and bombs and everything our way, that's the way she rolls.

“But the gallant loser thing is not on. We should have won that game.”

Michael Hooper was frustrated with the call at the time. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika did admit the refereeing was not the difference between the two sides in the dramatic final moments.

“It's irrelevant if it was fair or not because that's the way it was officiated,” he said.

“Any one of that stuff does not in any way excuse not finishing that game off, with three minutes to go and a kickoff to us.

“I don't want it taken that way, but there were some calls last year in Auckland and we have been hit again here. I suppose it is just disappointing.”

It was disappointment Cheika said he took from the match, rather than anger.

"I'm very, very disappointed because I felt like we did enough to win the game," he said.

"I'm not angry about anything in particular, just you put everything into it and you want to get some thing out of it."

Captain Michael Hooper was only focused on one thing after full-time - the result.

“I was proud of the way we bounced back this week during training,” he said.

“But I am not happy with the result. It still shows an L next to the scoresheet.

“We came here to win, we had confidence we were going to win and we didn't get that.

“So we are disappointed.”

The Wallabies fly back to Australia on Sunday, ahead of their next Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Perth on September 9.