The Waratahs are livid with New Zealand referee Lyndon Bray for not awarding a long-arm penalty in the last minute of their 13-13 draw with the Stormers that could have won them the match.
Rupert Guiness writes on RugbyHeaven Aus that the incident took place well after the siren had sounded when No.6 Rocky Elsom burst down the right flank to within 10 metres of the Stormers’ try line. Elsom passed the ball in the tackle only for an offside Stormer to tap it to ground, an infringement that should have given NSW a long-arm penalty and the option of a shot at goal.
The Waratahs believe five-eighth Kurtley Beale would have kicked the penalty after watching him convert Lote Tuqiri’s 69th-minute try from a more acute angle and further out. Beale’s conversion, which tied the scores 13-13, was amazing, especially considering the torrential rain and wind whipping across the Newlands ground and the ferocious crowd of 45,712.
There was no indication the Waratahs were planning to lodge a formal complaint, but captain and man of the match Phil Waugh didn’t hesitate to express his feelings about Bray’s decision to award NSW a short-arm penalty.
From the subsequent quick tap, Beale attempted to steal a win with a drop goal but it was charged down.
“Rocky runs, is tackled, puts the ball infield and their whole team is offside,” Waugh said. “The ref puts his arm out for an advantage and gives us a free kick. All these things add up. They are critical plays in the game that change the competition.”
Waugh’s frustration with the refereeing this season has been building throughout the year. And he came close to boiling point when one South African journalist took him to task over his side’s tactics at the breakdown and their alleged killing of the ball.
“I don’t know if you were watching the same game. You obviously weren’t. But every time we were on our feet, mate,” an angry Waugh said. “Go back and watch the video, have a another look. Because we were on our feet. The referee is playing the ruck … you can shake your head as much as you want, but go back and watch the game.”
The draw gave the Waratahs two points to hold third spot on the table on 39 points. NSW ended their two-match South African tour lamenting what could have been, after they lost 16-13 to the Bulls in Pretoria last week.
“Ten points were on offer. We got three. It is probably disappointing,” Waugh said.
He said the Waratahs were let down by poor kicking in the first half and some basic errors. But he was happy with his side’s performance after the break.
“Every point they got was from our mistakes,” Waugh said of the Stormers’ two tries, scored by wingers Sireli Naqelevuki and Wylie Human in the eighth and 41st minutes.
Human’s try hurt the most. He charged down a kick by Lachie Turner (who left the field in the 51st minute) and scooped up the loose ball to cross and give the Stormers a 10-6 lead.
“We are just putting ourselves under pressure,” Waugh said. “The majority of points scored against us have been from our areas and not keeping to our game plan.
“We recognised that, and the start of the second half [with Human's try] was a critical part of the game and they scored off the kick-off. It gets frustrating and we need to address it.”
However, the Waratahs pack deserved praise. Even Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus acknowledged the visitors dominated up front, especially in the scrum, which he said was a Waratahs’ weapon.
The challenge Waugh and his troops now face after having played in yet another rain-sodden game is backing up for Saturday’s clash against the Reds in Brisbane.
“I don’t know what the weather is doing in Brisbane. We will probably break the drought there.” Waugh joked. “This week is about attitude and about mentally getting it right.”
Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie was willing to look at the positives after the disappointing result.
“I wouldn’t say I am pleased. [But] I am pleased we got back in the game from behind [twice],” McKenzie said. “I am pleased we got a couple of points out of it.
“We had plenty of advantage out there. Our scrum and lineout work was good. Our defensive line was excellent. We had possession. We did a lot of work.
“We played direct. But in the end, for whatever reason, we couldn’t get across the line.”Tweet