WELLINGTON • Frustrated Wallabies coach Michael Cheika laid into referee Romain Poite after his side were beaten 29-9 by the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship yesterday, saying the French official constantly ignored his captain Stephen Moore.
The loss, following the heavy 42-8 defeat the previous week, saw the All Blacks claim the Bledisloe Cup for the 14th straight year.
Cheika's Australia have now lost six successive games, including a 0-3 home series loss to England.
While Cheika admitted the All Blacks played well, he believed his side were hurt by a high penalty count and pointed the finger at the referee Poite.
"I was bitterly disappointed, to be honest," Cheika said, questioning whether referees had a "pre-determined position" about the Australians.
He added that he had already raised with world referees boss Alain Rolland his concerns about both Poite and Welshman Nigel Owens from previous Wallabies matches they had controlled.
"I'm not sure why. But there was a time there in the game, in a break in play (against the All Blacks), when the national captain of Australia is asking the referee, 'When might be an opportunity for me to talk to you', and he absolutely ignored him," Cheika said.
He also believed Poite should have stopped the game when Wallabies forward David Pocock was being called off the field by an assistant referee for a head injury assessment.
"Is it a pre-determined position on our players? I asked Alain Rolland. I saw him last week in Sydney, and he said, 'No, it's a surprise if it is'," Cheika said.
The Australia coach added he could not understand why Wallaby Adam Coleman was sent to the sin bin for a late tackle when he saw similar infringements by the All Blacks which went unpunished.
However, he believed officials would pick up on an incident in which he believed Wallaby forward Kane Douglas was eye-gouged.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read admitted that it was a physical game in the fight for trans-Tasman supremacy.
"Perhaps we let it get to us a little bit in the first half. There was quite a bit of niggle out there," Read said.
"But I suppose you expect that in a high-pressure game."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN