Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said he would approach referee Nic Berry over what he called “dodgy decisions” in the 19-6 Super Rugby Pacific semi-final loss to the Chiefs.
Brodie Retallick’s late try – the only five-pointer on Saturday night – ended the title dreams of Australia’s last hope as the Chiefs locked in a home final next weekend against the defending champion Crusaders in Hamilton.
Australian teams are now 0-16 in Super Rugby finals games on New Zealand soil.
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Brumbies star rocked by brutal hit
Larkham acknowledged the quality of the Chiefs, who remarkably missed just five tackles on a wet Waikato night, as well as lamenting some costly mistakes and missed opportunities from the Brumbies.
But he also took aim at Australian whistle-blower Berry with a variety of grumbles.
“A couple of key ones when we’re down on their line and the maul got collapsed and then they dive over the ruck and slap it out of the halfback’s hands,” Larkham told Stan Sport’s Justin Harrison.
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“That one hurt. So we’ll take that up with the ref. There was a high shot on Bobby Valetini just here that went unnoticed or he deemed wasn’t yellow card or red card material, even penalty material…
“Yeah, look, there’s a couple of dodgy decisions there as well. A couple of side entries.
“We wouldn’t have been squeaky clean either, but I think overall the game, the flow of the game was refereed pretty well. Just a couple of key moments again that have really hurt us.”
Chiefs playmaker Damian McKenzie was excellent, sparking the Retallick try with his fast feet and kicking a monster penalty in the 72nd minute to give his side some breathing room before the knockout punch.
The Brumbies – with Dan McKellar at the helm – also bowed out in the semi-finals last year with a heartbreaking 20-19 loss to the Blues in Auckland.
Larkham’s first emotions on the fulltime whistle were directed towards departing assistant coaches Laurie Fisher and Dan Palmer.
“And, yeah, I felt pretty bad,” Larkham said.
“I mean, the amount of time and effort that those guys have put into this program over the last number of years, and then you go back even further with Laurie … I don’t think there’s anyone who’s contributed more to the Brumbies outside of the playing group.
“So he’s going to be a big loss to the organisation. Looking across at him in the coaches box was a pretty sad moment, to know that he’s not going to be with us next year.”
Larkham also paid tribute to captain Nic White, who is moving to the Force next season, and loose forward Pete Samu, who is taking up a contract with Bordeaux.
“Two big guys there that have put their heart and soul into this club,” Larkham said.
“And they’ve come close, you know, most of the boys here have come close, they’ve had success in Super Rugby AU. But we know that the big one is really playing against the New Zealand teams and winning the trans-Tasman competition and games. So yeah, immediately my thoughts went to all the guys that are moving on from the club.”
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