Cheika questions Owens and dismisses 'gallant loser' tag
A frustrated Michael Cheika said it is not acceptable for Australia to be seen as a "gallant loser" after a heartbreaking loss to New Zealand and questioned Nigel Owens' officiating in Dunedin.
The All Blacks needed a last-gasp try from Beauden Barrett to snatch a dramatic 35-29 victory at the Forsyth Barr Stadium and retain the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday.
Australia, still licking their wounds after a heavy loss to the world champions in Sydney last weekend, stunned the world champions by scoring 17 points with reply in the opening 15 minutes.
Steve Hansen's side came storming back with first-half tries from Rieko Ioane and Aaron Smith, going on to take the lead after the break courtesy of scores from Barrett and Ben Smith either side of a Will Genia five-pointer.
Kurtley Beale looked to have snatched it with a try three minutes from time, only for Barrett to stun the Wallabies right at the end of an incredible Test.
Bernard Foley was among the Australia try-scorers, but crucially missed four kicks and Cheika understandably cut a disgruntled figure after such an agonising defeat.
The Australia head coach said: "I am always proud and pleased with the team,
"Even last week when it was harder to be proud, because I see what they're doing off the field. I know chaps are throwing eggs and bombs and everything our way, that's the way she rolls.
"But the gallant loser thing is not on. We should have won that game."
Cheika also felt referee Owens let All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick off the hook following a first-half incident involving Wallabies flanker Ned Hanigan.
"I have to tread lightly here," he said. "Number one I can say, because it was clear to everyone, is [Retalllick] has picked one of our blokes up and put him on his head.
"Categorically. He has his arm through his leg and picked him up. And it's a free pass. The guy can't end up on his head any other way but then it's a freebie. Just as well he didn't break his neck."