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Luke Pentony

Wallabies shattered after 'disgraceful' refereeing decision in Bledisloe Cup Test loss to All Blacks

A controversial refereeing decision in the final minute of play has left the Wallabies struggling to come to terms with their 39-37 loss to the All Blacks in the opening Bledisloe Cup Test in Melbourne.

The Wallabies led 37-34 in the 79th minute of the Rugby Championship fixture when they were awarded a penalty five metres out from their goal line.

The Wallabies chose to kick for touch via fly half Bernard Foley, who was warned by referee Mathieu Raynal not to use delaying tactics.

Raynal had called "time off" and then "time on" as he waited for Foley to take the kick.

As the clock crept inside the final 60 seconds of the match, Raynal pinged Foley for time wasting and awarded the All Blacks a free kick.

From the ensuing scrum feed, the All Blacks won the ball and sent it wide to the right, with fullback Jordie Barrett scoring in the corner to seal the victory after the full-time siren.

Both Foley and reserve halfback Nic White – whose 77th-minute penalty goal moved the Wallabies in front on the scoreboard — had remonstrated with Raynal following his decision but to no avail.

Foley – playing his first Test in three years — was left shattered, with the result ensuring the All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup.

"The ref said time off, and he sped it up," Foley told the Nine Network.

"I just think it's disappointing how good a game that was, yet we're talking about the referee."

Wallabies captain James Slipper was just as upset, with his side having launched an incredible fightback after being down 31-13 midway through the second half.

"Absolutely gutted. I actually don't know what to say but we really wanted to put in a performance tonight and we just fell short there," Slipper said.

"That is probably the most gutting way to finish a game in my opinion."

Wallabies fullback Andrew Kellaway — who scored back-to-back tries during his side's second-half comeback — was devastated by the late refereeing decision.

"It's the first time I've seen that happen in rugby … it's hard one to swallow," he told ABC Sport.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie shared his players' disappointment.

"I'm gutted for our men because I reckon we deserved better," he said.

"It was a hell of a game of footy.

"We got a couple of yellow cards and found ourselves 31-13, so to get ourselves back in front showed a lot of character and it's a disappointing way to lose it."

'Cracked under pressure'

Wallabies great Tim Horan — who was commentating for the Nine Network — slammed Raynal for his late call.

"I thought it was a disgraceful decision from the referee," Horan told Nine.

"I thought he cracked under pressure.

"I reckon you could have another 15 referees … that would have taken that calmly and wouldn't have been awed by the experience.

"There's 90 seconds left in the game and he cracked under pressure, in one of the biggest games here in Australia.

"It's a disgraceful decision and World Rugby need to look at it.

"The big referees make decisions at that late part of the game and are calm about it.

"I just thought it was a disgraceful decision and I think everyone in the stadium and watching probably thinks the same thing."

Former Queensland Reds coach Phil Mooney — who was commentating for ABC Sport — said he was left "speechless".

"I've been watching rugby for a long time," he said.

"I don't think I have ever seen that penalty ever at any level."

The contentious finish marred what had been a thrilling match in front of a sold-out crowd at Docklands stadium, with the All Blacks scoring five tries to four.

They lead the Rugby Championship standings on 14 points.

The Wallabies and All Blacks face off again on September 24 at Auckland's Eden Park.

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