Brumbies coach Dan McKellar expressed his frustrations with the referee after his side’s 20-19 loss to the Blues in their semi-final at Eden Park this weekend.
The Blues held a 13-point lead until the Brumbies rallied together in the second half to leave the teams with only one point between them in the final stages.
The comeback was not to be as the Blues charged down a late attempted drop goal from fly-half Noah Lolesio and secured the win. McKellar immediately questioned the match officials and complained about where the game is going regarding the contact point.
“There were a couple of decisions there that will be interesting to review. Luke Reimer appeared to be well and truly on the ball directly in front of the posts,” he said after the game.
“I’ve got 23 players and 15 staff in there… what is the game doing around cards? I’ve got (the suspended) Len Ikitau sitting in the grandstand for an accident last week. He hasn’t been able to play, possibly won’t play against England in the first Test match, and we’ve got a guy tipped on his head, got a head on head contact… one’s a yellow, one’s a red.
“I’m not complaining just about tonight, but as a game… last night as well with the Crusaders and Chiefs. What direction are we going here because players don’t know what’s yellow, what’s red? I don’t know what it is, so how is Joe Public going to have any idea.”
Mckellar lamented the lack of consistency from match officials and refused to say where he thought either of the two yellow cards should have been red. However, the Brumbies boss took issue with the system in place.
“At the moment one’s here, one’s there… yet they’re very similar. I sat in on Len Ikitau’s hearing during the week. There are just so many accidents that happen in a collision sport. I’m not sitting here saying the Blues boys should have been red-carded or whatever, but as a game it’s really hard to follow at the moment in terms of which way it may go.
“[It’s] common-sense, isn’t it. If someone throws a stiff arm or punches someone or eye-gouges or stands on someone, throw the book at them. No one wants players getting concussed, but there’s accidents…
“There were a couple of calls there, when you’re playing at Eden Park, and an Australian team hasn’t won here forever and a day, you need a bit of luck, and we just didn’t get that tonight. There was a tip tackle, there was head on head contact, I saw Luke Reimer on the ball surviving cleanout directly in front of the posts.
“It’s something to review, but our season is done and dusted now and all the best to the Blues next week against the Crusaders. They’ve been an outstanding team all year and are worthy grand final hosts.”
McKellar was delighted with his team’s attitude and commitment as they almost completed a sensational comeback to book a spot in the final but it was not to be.
“You’re very proud of the courage and tenacity and resilience of the group,” he said. “It’s a big part of the culture of our environment. You talk about it, but you’ve got to show it. At 20-7 down we were a bit rattled at halftime. We feel we’ve got the best finishing group in the competition, and they showed that again tonight. They were outstanding.
“The lesson out of a game like tonight is you can’t wait, you can’t have 40 minutes to get a little prod. You need to capitalise and have that belief and take those opportunities early.”