Larkham slams ref for 'try shocker'
REACTION: Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham did not pull any punches in his criticism of Australian referee Angus Gardner on Friday.
The defending champion Highlanders survived a tense finish to eliminate the Brumbies 15-9 and qualify for the Super Rugby semifinals in Canberra.
However, Larkham - a legend in his playing days who are still finding his feet as a coach - felt some refereeing calls may have had a critical influence on the outcome of the game.
"We did everything right to win that game," Larkham told a post-match media briefing, adding: "It's difficult not to comment on some of those refereeing decisions."
He was particularly critical of a decision not to award a try to his team five minutes from the end, while they were dominating the Highlanders.
"I can't see how [replacement] Lausii [Taliauli] didn't score that try," Larkham snapped.
"There is no possible answer to what happened there.
"Then a couple of those scrums near the end. We had a dominant scrum all match and I don't think that changed at the end. I thought there should have been a penalty at the end," he said of a series of collapsed scrum that were reset without penalising the Highlanders.
"Like I said, the boys did everything right.
"We made a couple of mistakes, but we got to a situation at the end where we deserved to win that game.
"It is incredibly frustrating to know that we lost it that way."
He denied there was any doubt about the try.
"I can't see any other answer there, it was clearly a try to everyone who saw it," Larkham reiterated.
He said they deserved the yellow card, issued to Matt Toomua in the 37th minute as a result of repeat infringements, because they had conceded a number of penalties.
"Yes, we made mistakes, but we executed right to the 80th minute and probably the five minutes leading to the 80th minute."
He felt it was 'really disappointing' that the game came down to questionable refereeing calls.
"I will give credit where it is due," Larkham said, adding: "The Highlanders played well, but I felt we played better and we deserved that win."
He admitted it is hurting badly to go out the way they did.
"It is bitter and we can't put it behind us and try again next week - we have to wait till next year and it is incredibly bitter."