Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has reacted furiously to accusations he called the referee a cheat after a dispiriting 30-6 Test defeat to England at Twickenham.
The loss, to Eddie Jones’s team, was Australia’s biggest margin of defeat against their rivals.
However, it did not tell the full story of the match with the tourists trailing 13-6 with 10 minutes remaining and then having a Marika Koroibete try controversially ruled out after Stephen Moore was deemed to have prevented Chris Robshaw making a tackle..
Three five-pointers in the last seven minutes from Jonathan Joseph, Jonny May and Danny Care then gave the scoreline some extra gloss but failed to mask the fact that Cheika’s side have now lost their past five matches to England.
There were also first-half yellow cards brandished to skipper Michael Hooper, who also had a try chalked off, and Kurtley Beale.
TV footage appeared to show an incensed Cheika mouth “f****** cheats” from the coaching box after Hooper’s try was disallowed for offside by the television match official (TMO).
When questioned by BeIN SPORTS about the incident, an angry Cheika stormed out of the post-match interview.
“Is that really what it’s come to?” Cheika said before walking away.
“I’m trying to get an interview without getting stuck into that and you want to try to keep making it (about that).
“Maybe I could’ve said something if that’s the new thing, yeah maybe I did swear. It happens sometimes in life, I’m sure you have as well, have you?
“Maybe the TV camera wasn’t on you at the time?
Hooper’s sin-binning for repeated offside, by rookie New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe, was the eighth time he’s been sent to the touchline — the most by any player in history.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, a more measured Cheika played down an exchange of words with England supporters as he made his way to the sideline.
“There are plenty of fans giving me a gob full, I can assure you,” he said.
“And it’s not nice, not pleasant. But that is the way it goes, the way it happens.
“I know when I walk down the stairs that I’m going to cop abuse but that’s the way she rolls.”
In a match played in freezing cold, rainy conditions, Hooper looked to have scored the opening try midway through the first period.
However, he was ruled offside by the TMO after Koiribete scuffed the ball ahead for him to dive onto.
“I thought I worked back, hands in the air and Marika, who was onside kicked the ball, and put me onside,” Hooper said.
“That is why I went at the ball and got it over the tryline. I don’t know what I am supposed to do there?
“If the kick is put in behind me am I meant to stop and not be part of the game? It’s hard when you are going at full pace.”
The Wallabies’ frustration was compounded after the TMO ruled in favour of an Elliot Daly try after halftime.
The score stemmed from Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani spilling the ball from a Samu Kerevi offload with the England line at his mercy.
Halfback Ben Youngs booted the ball down the field looking for touch.
But despite footage appearing to show the point of the ball grazed the line, Daly’s opportunistic try was awarded after he nipped in front of Beale and race to the line.
“I don’t know, I am not ranking them, it’s not the academy awards,” Cheika said when asked which decision that went against his side angered him most.