Wallabies shocked after 'absurd' referee decision halts comeback

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Izaia Perese copped a yellow card for deliberate knock on during game two of the International Test Match series leaving observers baffled. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
The Wallabies were left baffled after a dubious second half yellow card ruined their momentum. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Let's get the obvious out of the way first - England thoroughly deserved its series-levelling 25-17 win over the Wallabies in Brisbane.

They were ruthlessly efficient, especially in the first half, and blew the home side off the park.

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Hit by an ambush they knew was coming but could do little about, the Wallabies melted like one of those chocolate bars promoted on the front of their jumper.

They were not helped by a raft of injuries – and can take great heart from coming back from 19-0 down – but there is a massive mountain to climb to overcome the Poms in Sydney next weekend.

Okay, now time for a deep breath as we dive into the real issue at hand in here.

Two players – Australia's Izaia Perese and England fly-half Marcus Smith - were sin-binned for deliberately knocking the ball down in separate incidents either side of half-time.

Perese was clearly going for an intercept. He was not thinking knock down at any stage.

The on-field referee thought as much but was forced to flash the yellow card when extra-officious Third Match Official (TMO) Joy Neville butted her beak in and shouted "deliberate" into referee Andrew Brace's over-worked earpiece.

If it was deliberate then why wasn't England awarded a penalty try, as there was clear a passage to the line if Perese missed the ball?

And if he'd reeled the ball in at the last second then it's safe to assume it quickly morphs from a knockdown into an intercept and it’s play on?

"There's no motion to knock that ball, he's trying to drag it in," former All Black Andrew Mehrtens said in the Stan Sport commentary.

"This is the absurdity that we’re seeing at the moment, there's just no common sense applied to some of the rulings.

"That's not clear and deliberate. I absolutely take issue with this."

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Smith's "crime" was to stick out a lazy hand in an attempt to gain possession.

It was a reflex action any player from an international down to a subbies third grader would have attempted.

He too was sat down for 10 minutes.

As Mehrtens said, it was an absurd as the Perese decision.

Fans on social media went wild over both calls. Many switched over to the NRL and didn’t return.

So why does rugby have a knockdown law in the first place, I hear you ask?

England squared the International Test Match series with a convincing victory over the Wallabies. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris - The RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)
England squared the International Test Match series with a convincing victory over the Wallabies. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris - The RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

It's a question we put to former international referee Peter Marshall a while back.

He told us: "I don’t agree with the philosophy. I don't like the law at all.

"The poor bugger who goes for the intercept and doesn't regather not only cops a penalty but goes to the bin as well.

"We used to have some great inceptors but that's just taken out of their game now."

When you've got top class ex-internationals, referees and fans in unison over a law, you know the sport has a big problem.

You also know the obstinate World Rugby board will do nothing to end this blight on the game.

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