'Harsh': The 'nonsensical decision' that ended Wallabies' win streak

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Pictured right, the Allan Alaalatoa that saw the Wallabies forward sin-binned against Scotland.
The penalty against Allan Alaalatoa proved costly for the Wallabies in the narrow defeat against Scotland. Pic: Getty/Stan Sport

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie says he doesn’t like to whinge about match officials, so let's do him a favour and whine on his behalf.

The decision to erase a try under the posts to skipper Michael Hooper and sin-bin prop Allan Alaalatoa just before half-time in the 15-13 loss to Scotland played a massive role in Australia's five-game winning streak coming unstuck at Murrayfield.

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Watch the replay – as we did a dozen times – and it's hard to agree with the TMO's harsh assessment of an incident that would not have even been a discussion point just a few short years ago.

Alaalatoa rumbles into the ruck to do his cleanout work and barely grazes Scotland's Matt Fagerson with an open hand as Hooper picks up the ball and scoots over under the black dot.

You'd see more force used by a bloke wiping tomato sauce off his face after downing one of Four n Twenty's finest.

But instead of a 7-all scoreline coming into the break, French referee Romain Poite tells an incredulous Hooper: "There's no force but it’s clear head contact and that's a yellow card."

The decision proved vital in the final wash-up, the Wallabies going down by two before a vociferous 67,000-strong crowd at Scotland's home of rugby.

Sure, you could argue Australia had plenty of time – and numerous opportunities – to right the perceived wrong.

There were some poor options taken in the final stages and bad mistakes made, none worse than the experienced James O'Connor failing to find touch from a penalty that would have put his side deep on the attack with minutes remaining.

But, sorry, we can’t let the Alaalatoa situation go just yet.

'Phenomenally harsh' call against Wallabies

The Scotland-leaning Guardian match blog summed it up this way: "That's a phenomenally harsh decision. There was no malice and any contact was negligible.

"It was slightly careless at very worst. It's a nonsensical decision and such a massive call in the context of the game."

Rennie and Hooper would no doubt agree but were far too diplomatic to launch into the officials, largely concentrating on Australia's inability to get the job done when cool heads and smart decision making were called for.

It was a scrappy affair with only the closeness of the scores maintaining interest levels.

Seen here, a frustrated Michael Hooper looks on during the Wallabies' Test defeat against Scotland.
Michael Hooper's Wallabies saw their five-match unbeaten run come to an end against Scotland. Pic: Getty

That Australia lacked cohesion was perhaps understandable given the number of forced changes to their side and the loss during the game of prop Taniela Tupou and Jordan Petaia to injury.

But the number of cheap turnovers and failure to mount sustained pressure on the Scots cannot be put down to rust or lack of continuity.

It was a step in the wrong direction for the Wallabies, who must now pick themselves up and recover to meet the might of England at Twickenham in just six days' time.

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