Rugby World Cup 2019: Aussies lash out at Kiwi ref's 'cardinal sin' in Fiji try celebration

Australian media have criticised Kiwi Rugby World Cup Ben O'Keeffe for committing a "cardinal sin" during the Wallabies' win against Fiji on Saturday. 

On Saturday, the Wallabies were pushed to their limits against Fiji, overcoming a 21-12 second half deficit to win 39-21 in Sapporo.

O'Keeffe was officiating the match, but according to Fox Sports, the Kiwi made a judgment error by giving Fijian fullback Kini Murimurivalu a low-five during the match. 

The incident came after Fiji scored their second try of the game and the Australian media felt "the gesture leaves O'Keeffe open to come under attack".

A shot of the incident showing Ben O'Keeffe and Kini Murimurivalu.
A shot of the incident showing Ben O'Keeffe and Kini Murimurivalu. Photo credit: Spark Sport

"Regardless of his intentions or the motivations behind the gesture, it just shouldn't happen," the reports adds.

Why O'Keeffe put his hand out for the low-five remains unclear. 

The fixture was O'Keeffe's first at a World Cup, and he's set to officiate the France v USA on October 2 and Japan v Scotland October 13 matches later in the tournament. 

After the match, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika criticised the entire refereeing performance, especially for the way they targeted flanker David Pocock, who was penalised three times at the breakdown. 

"The stuff on the ground, I'm not quite sure what's going on, but the team of three were talking about David Pocock from the first minute of the game," he said.

"I'm not sure what he's done, but there was some severe focus on him. I heard his name mentioned between them on the commentary at least half a dozen times in their own chat, when he hadn't even been involved in the ruck.

"He's been out all year. I don't know what he's done, but there is a severe focus on him. His name is being called all the time, so I was a little bit surprised by that."

But Pocock was quick to dismiss his coach's claims.

"You're not thinking about that stuff out there. We'll have a look at the review and see. I'll leave that speculation to you guys," he said.

"Generally refs are doing a really good job. As long as there are clear communication and consistency, as a player, that's all you can ask for."

Meanwhile, Wallabies utility Reece Hodge could be in doubt for Australia's next game against Wales for being cited for a dangerous tackle on Peceli Yato during the match. 

Citing commissioner John Montgomery said the hit met the red-card threshold for an act of foul play.

Hodge was not carded for the incident during the match. 

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