Referee controversy mars SFS farewell Test victory

In what could be the Wallabies final Test at the Sydney Football Stadium, it came down to the wire as the Australians took one last stab at the line. It was too little too late though, as the crowd were forced to sit through minutes of TMO kerfuffle before the referee eventually blew time for a famous Ireland victory.

In a tight tussle, several questionable referee decisions and wasted minutes spent referring to the TMO marred the epic occasion and ended a spectacular series on a bitter note -- especially as players and fans were forced to sit through review after review.

Two questionable sinbins -- Ireland wing Jacob Stockdale for an elbow to Nick Phipps' throat in attack, and Israel Folau for playing the man while attempting to collect a high ball -- were the major talking point following the match.

Following the match, Michael Cheika didn't want to be drawn into discussing the refereeing, but was clearly frustrated with the officiating - especially Folau's yellow card.

"Across the series we've been talking about trying to build really good rapport and have clarity around decisions etc, and have a no excuses mentality, which I really want to try maintain that," Cheika said following the loss.

"You guys have seen what happened out there, the only people who can answer those questions are the referees, not me. I don't want to be the guy who looks like 'oh he's a moaner', cause that's how it always ends up. You get portrayed as the moaner or the whinger, so let's get on with it and they can answer it themselves to be honest. I don't know if that happens in rugby."

French referee Pascal Gauzere referred to the TMO in the 31st minute after Folau collided with Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony in the air as they both contested a high ball and O'Mahony landed awkwardly on his back. Replaying the scene multiple times, the TMO and Gauzere eventually decided Folau had contested the ball cleanly, but had then moved to play the man in the air and gave him the yellow card.

Asked if he would be seeking clarity on the Folau call, Cheika said he'd been seeking clarity throughout the series, but had been left disappointed with previous referee's responses.

"I tried that last week, I went to see the referees we had. They sent us clips the week before of us tackling without the ball -- obviously after the Adam Coleman penalty that saw the try was disallowed -- so the referee that week sent me a whole bunch of clips saying these guys have been tackling without the ball, three or four clips of us.

"After game two I went back to them with some other things, to seek clarity on what entails 'tackle without the ball', because there were four or five of our players tackled without the ball - one of which broke Will Genia's arm -- shoulder charge off the back of the ruck we didn't have the ball -- which the referees agreed at that meeting that was a foul. So I don't think there's much point seeking clarity now."

In contrast, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt was clearly happy with the result and had only praise for his side and the Wallabies after they'd played out a hard-fought series.

"They [Wallabies] were super in that second half and I thought it was a super effort from our guys just to keep them out," Schmidt said.

"They came in waves and the speed they ran onto the ball, it was just really hard for us to keep them off our advantage line. Once they started to get that momentum they were even harder to contain.

"It's credit to our guys for hanging in there, and it's probably credit to the Wallabies, I thought they did a fantastic job of carrying it incredibly well."

He later described the win as one of the best he'd had as Ireland coach.

"It's up there. I think they're a super team and to come into their backyard and to manage to sneak off with the Lansdowne trophy is a little bit special, especially on the back of a pretty long season.

"I think it's a credit to the players that they dug in just well enough. I'm pleased there's not a game next week, because I think that would have been a bridge too far, but I think the Wallabies are going in a good direction.

"I think they've got fuel in the tank and I think they're building. I'm sure Cheiks is happy with some of what they're doing, especially in that second half."

Backing up from a strong performance in Melbourne, Ireland pulled out a close to flawless game as they produced an unmovable green wall in defence while their attack easily penetrated - making three clean breaks compared to zero in the opening 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Wallabies struggled to break Ireland's defence early in the match, forcing Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale to put boot to ball in the hopes of finding metres. But, the Wallabies kept in the game with Johnny Sexton and Foley trading penalty goals as the lead rotated before Ireland took a 12-9 lead into the break.

A CJ Stander try minutes into the second stanza put Ireland into a strong position as they looked to take complete control of the match, but the Wallabies refused to back down as replacements Tolu Latu and Taniela Tupou made impact from the minute they stepped on the pitch. But it was Marika Koroibete who collected a chip through the Irish line to get the Wallabies over the whitewash.

Disappointed with the series result, Cheika found it hard to pinpoint the positives from the match, but was adamant the side would come back stronger against the All Blacks in July.

"I feel like we've been better this June, heaps better, we've shown a lot of commitment," Cheika said. "But I can't find those positives in the defeat thing. We wanted to win the trophy, but we didn't.

"We've had great crowds throughout the series, and I want to thank all those fans around Australia and promise them that we'll come back stronger for the series against New Zealand, because it's really been an inspiration for us to play in front of those crowds."

After losing Michel Hooper early in the match to a leg injury, Cheika didn't know how long the captain would be out of the game.

"He's got a bit of a hamstring issue I'd say, but with those things we'll have to wait for a scan and see if he'll be good for the Waratahs and their run to the finals."