Warren Gatland has raised questions over the inconsistency seen in referee Mike Fraser and TMO Brendon Pickerill’s joint call to rule out Damian McKenzie’s try which contributed to the Chiefs’ loss to the Highlanders.
The Chiefs relinquished a 24-point lead as they slumped to an agonising 33-31 defeat to the Highlanders in Hamilton on Sunday.
The result sees the Chiefs extend their losing streak in Super Rugby Aotearoa to five consecutive defeats.
Gatland, who took charge of the Chiefs this season, feels his team was hard done by when McKenzie’s try in the 65th minute was disallowed because of an accidental offside.
The referee Fraser, in consultation with TMO Pickerill ruled that ball bounced the knee of Chiefs captain Sam Cane into the boot of flyhalf Kaleb Trask, who was in an offside position in the lead-up to McKenzie’s score. But according to the laws of the game, officials can only go back two phases in which to make calls. In this in stance, there were at least three rucks post-lineout before McKenzie’s crossed the tryline.
‘I’m not unhappy about that, but if he’s going to do that, then make the ruling [on two phases],’ Gatland said. ‘Because you could be in a situation with another game where the referee turns and says “No, that’s too far back”.
‘You could argue you could have just played on and said that’s a try. We just need to make sure we have some consistency.
‘There was a penalty to us on half-time that the AR [assistant referee] was trying to communicate to the referee, and unfortunately the comms weren’t working. So there was a couple of tough calls. And a tough call on that lineout penalty at the end of the game. We just can’t seem to buy a trick at the moment.’
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger was coy when asked his thoughts on the McKenzie no-try.
‘Offside?’ he questioned. ‘Was it two phases? The refs, I’m pretty sure they would’ve checked it out. I can’t recall, to be fair. I just back Mike Fraser’s decision, he was obviously being getting fed the information from upstairs too.’
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