Cheika slams 'good young referee'

Sun, 01 Oct 2017 17:20

REACTION: Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika believes referee Ben O'Keeffe played a big role in his side's failure to beat the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Cheika was disappointed with a number of decisions that went against his team in the 27-all draw in Bloemfontein, but at the same time insisted that O'Keeffe will have a bright future in the game.

"Ben [O'Keeffe] is a very good young referee," Cheika said after the match. "He is going to be a great referee going forward, there is doubt about it. 

"He has got an excellent temperament and he is only starting out in the tier one matches, but there were some [missed] forward passes, knock-ons and I suppose most disappointing for us was the goal that equalised the game. There was no doubt that [Pieter-Steph] Du Toit was offside at that ruck.

"On the other side too when Michael [Hooper] makes a tackle on [Elton] Jantjies, he [Jantjies] has a second grab on the ball while he is on the ground - that is playing the ball on the ground and there's a kick right in front with three minutes to go. These are key moments."

Despite the draw, Cheika was pleased with his side's fighting spirit against the Boks.

"I'm obviously very disappointed. I thought we worked hard enough to get a win, but it wasn't to be. 

"What I was pleased about was the resilience we showed. They [Springboks] came with the strategy to try to run us out of puff on the Highveld. They just started playing from the first play and what we didn't do is perhaps get our tackles better. 

"I thought we managed the altitude fitness wise as well. That was obviously a clear strategy they had and we will able to manage it and I just thought it came down to a couple of bits and pieces here or there for us not winning the match," Cheika added.

Cheika said the result was a bittersweet one away from home.

"Obviously playing away from home it [the draw] feels a little bit better, but not a lot," said Cheika. "We want to win footy matches. 

"Our fans are getting up late in Australia to watch us play. I know they would have probably enjoyed the match and I think they would have enjoyed the courage we showed - we kept coming back, we showed good resilience - but we want to win rugby matches. 

"We are working hard and I know it will come."

By Warren Fortune, in Bloemfontein

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