Rugby World Cup 2019: Warren Gatland steers clear of ref criticism, after Cheika outburst

Wales coach Warren Gatland is trying to steer clear of referee criticism, after his side's controversial Rugby World Cup win over Australia on Sunday. 

Gatland's men won 29-24 in one of the tournament's best games so far, but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika's criticism of the referees has overshadowed the match. 

The incident causing the most headlines occurred in the 32nd minute, when Australian centre Samu Kerevi was penalised in a collision with Wales replacement Rhys Patchell.

A long video review followed and Kerevi was ruled to have made contact with Patchell's throat with his elbow, although it seemed unintentional.

The call swung momentum to Wales, who went on to score 13 more points to lead 23-8 at halftime. 

While Cheika labelled the call "embarrassing" and said the referees '"all seem spooked", Gatland was in no mood to discuss the call. 

"I thought it was investigated by the TMO and referee for leading with the forearm," he said. 

"There's been a lot of criticism of the referees and I don't want to get involved in being a part of that. We know they have a tough job out there. 

"It's important that the judiciary take care of those things and decisions are made, and we've just got to abide by them." 

Patchell, who came on in the 28th minute for Dan Biggar, echoed his coach's comments. 

The incident which as Michael Cheika seething.
The incident which as Michael Cheika seething. Photo credit: Getty

"I tackled him, the ref made the decision. I am not here to say anything controversial. 

"The game is the game, people make decisions. We are just out there to do our best."

Overall, Gatland was happy with his team's performance and he wanted his team to celebrate the win.

The last time the two nations squared off, Wales won 9-6, but before that, Australia had beaten them 12 consecutive times, dating back to 2008. 

"I want the guys to look after themselves tonight, but they deserve to pat each other on the back," said Gatland. "It's a big confidence boost for the next couple of games. 

"This team, as a squad, has grown up in terms of game management. That's improved significantly. 

"We've learned a lot from those experiences about management, coming off the bench, showing real character. 

"We won some key turnovers towards the end of the game. It was pleasing to handle the six-day turnaround. 

"Georgia wasn't an easy encounter. Our composure and fitness was really good, and we soaked up a lot of pressure."

Wales now have nine days to prepare for Fiji next Wednesday, while Australia face Uruguay on Saturday. 

"Fiji will be hurting, so we can't take anyone lightly in this group," Gatland added. "It's important we prepare the best we can and don't take anything for granted. 

"We've got to be as clinical as you possibly can."

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