Cheika spits the dummy
Cheika spits the dummySHARE
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika may have spat the dummy about refereeing perceptions, but captain Dave Dennis admitted their own lack of discipline cost them.
The table-topping Sharks overcame a determined Waratahs side in a fiery and often spiteful encounter at Kings Park Stadium in Durban at the weekend.
Following the ill-tempered and often brutal clash with the Sharks, the Waratahs were miffed that their captain was sin-binned for a push, despite numerous first half incidents – two of which were later cited – being deemed unworthy of yellow cards by New Zealand referee Mike Fraser.
However, the Tahs were ultimately made to pay for their ill-disciple and poor handling, as 19 points from rookie flyhalf Fred Zeilinga saw the home side emerge 32-10 victors.
The visitors' captain, Dennis, lamented the Waratahs' poor discipline in the match – as his side conceded 20 penalties and a free kick, to go with the yellow card handed out to the skipper in the 48th minute.
Add the 20-odd turnovers conceded, including 19 handling errors, and it is obvious why Dennis looked inwards rather than blame referees for the lobsided score.
"There were plenty of opportunities there, but discipline let us down and we just couldn't get that rhythm during the game," Dennis said in his post-match media briefing.
"There was too much dropped ball.
"We certainly had opportunities but things just didn't go our way."
Cheika – who had to escorted from the field when he confronted match officials on the sideline during the game – opted to put the spotlight back on referees, claiming his team's scrum has become victims of a perception problem in the eyes of match officials.
It's the third consecutive week Australian teams have been on the wrong end of lopsided penalty counts in South Africa, with Reds coach Richard Graham angered by the treatment of his in recent away losses to the Sharks and Lions.
Cheika was upset that front row forwards Benn Robinson and Sekope Kepu were consistently pinged for collapsing scrums.
Cheika suggested the Sharks front row hoodwinked the referee with gamesmanship and said there's a stigma attached to the Waratahs scrummaging that isn't the reality.
"There's a certain perception around our scrum with the referees that we have to fix," Cheika told Australian Associated Press.
"I'm not too sure how, but we'll work on it to find a way to fix that.
"We got penalised twice for going down when it was pretty clear the opposition guys faded back.
"If the other guy doesn't fully engage, where do you go? If you can't come closer on the impact, how do you stay up?"
He said he was not going to bother seeking clarification from SANZAR.
"I'm not sure if anyone's got the answer to be honest."
The Waratahs face another match in South Africa this week, although they'll like their chances more against an injury-ravaged Stormers team who fell 17-22 to the Reds in Brisbane, their fourth straight defeat.