Waratahs hit out at referee

    2013-04-29 07:40
    Sydney - Michael Cheika singled out the performance of match officials at Loftus Versfeld as one of the defining factors in the Waratahs' 30-19 loss to the Bulls on Sunday.

    Cheika acknowledged that mistakes made by his own players, including three missed kicks for goal, wayward line out throws and poor decision-making under pressure, did not help the Waratahs defend a four-point lead in the second half.

    But the Waratahs coach questioned a number of infringements called out by referee Francisco Pastrana and his assistants that helped Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn tally up 18 points in penalties alone.

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    'I'm very, very disappointed with the officiating,'' Cheika said. ''The communication, the language, the ability to decipher correct decisions, the basic ones like, 'Is the man inside the 22' and 'Are people attacking the ball when they're carrying their own body weight'. I'm really disappointed with it; it's cost my team, I think.''

    Cheika was careful to clarify that he did not mean the decisions cost the side the game but his frustration with the match officials was palpable.

    ''We take responsibility for the mistakes we made causing us to lose the game; we could have got the bonus point by making the tackle at the end on the guy coming back,'' he said.

    ''But we wouldn't have been in that position if the previous penalty wasn't given when the guy was lying on the ground, stealing the ball.''

    Bulls captain Pierre Spies said he had no issue with Pastrana's judgment. ''I think some calls might have been questioned both ways but I think it was consistent,'' Spies said.

    ''I felt the referee was easy to speak to and easy to listen to and he was clear in his descriptions. When the result goes your way you're always happy, and we're happy with the win.''

    Bulls coach Frans Ludeke credited Bulls lineout technicians Juandre Kruger and Flip van der Merwe for their dominance of the Waratahs' lineout and the entire pack's defence. But Ludeke said the eventual score line did not do the match justice.

    ''The Waratahs worked their way back into the game; they got that lovely [Bernard Foley] try from broken play and suddenly they were back up there,'' Ludeke said. ''Then it was a mental game. We kept our cool and forced the big moments and turnovers and the try in the end; that's why the score ballooned, but it was a close contest.''

    The try-scoring effort would give Cheika and his assistants great hope for the future of attacking rugby within the Waratahs, as would the continued strong performances from Israel Folau in the No 15 jersey. But as the team flies south to Port Elizabeth, where the Kings await, there is little the coaches can do but subject the side to more such pressure-cooker environments and continue fighting the battle against ill-discipline.

    The Waratahs knew they needed to be rock solid around the ruck against the Bulls but they did not see their troubles coming at lineout time. For that reason, Cheika remained fairly relaxed about the area after the game.

    For the first time in a few games, it was evident the Waratahs still lack experience in the back line. A few dubious decisions under pressure - including a Cam Crawford chip kick that handed back possession to the Bulls - saw the score line blow out in the final 20 minutes.

    ''We're here for experience, but we're also here to try to get some competition points and I thought we deserved some tonight,'' Cheika said.

    ''We really believed that we could come here and do something, and I know that we may not be the top of the tree in the Australian Conference but we're trying very hard to become a better team.''

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