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Argentina v Australia Betting: Wallabies don't need a dodgy ref to look like winners

Aussie star Drew Mitchell is one try from a World Cup record
Aussie star Drew Mitchell is one try from a World Cup record
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Australia's dramatic quarter-final win over Scotland started a furious rumpus about referee Craig Joubert's decision. Ralph Ellis says that shouldn't obscure the quality in Michael Cheika's side...


"The Wallabies ended up with one more point than the opposition not because they were given a leg-up by a dodgy referee, but because when they went behind with a few minutes left they were good enough not to blame anybody else but to find their own way back into the game."

So there was me thinking that in rugby the referee was always awarded total respect. How many phone-ins have you heard where people were preaching about how the guy with the whistle is always addressed as "sir", and nobody ever argues with his decision?

Well here we are, three days after a World Cup quarter-final that hinged on a dodgy call, and people are still going on about the last minute penalty that put Scotland out of the competition and Australia into the semi-final.

The ref himself says he ran off the pitch as soon as he blew the final whistle to "avoid a public confrontation" with Scotland's furious players. As he went he had a bottle thrown at him. Matt Dawson tweeted to the world that he was "a disgrace and should never referee again".

As if all that wasn't enough, the sport's governing body then hung poor Craig Joubert out to dry by issuing an official statement confirming he'd got wrong the biggest call of the competition so far.

The World Rugby statement didn't even call him "sir". And if the people on the committee who produced the statement are subject to the sport's so-called amazing moral code, I presume they have now got to retreat ten yards, and then continue going back another ten, and another ten, and so on, until they stop arguing.

The reality is that rugby can't teach us anything at all - other than when huge amounts of money and status are on the line, they are just as bad as every other sport.

The bottom line of Australia's win remains that the Wallabies ended up with one more point than the opposition not because they were given a leg-up by a dodgy referee, but because when they went behind with a few minutes left they were good enough not to blame anybody else but to find their own way back into the game.

As their coach Michael Cheika points out: "No other decision in the tournament has been reviewed and published. I felt we should have had a couple of scrum penalties before. I don't know if there is a document coming out on them? If there is we'll make a list."

It's a point worth remembering before the Aussies play Argentina, the surprise packages of the competition so far, in Sunday's semi-final. They are [1.43] in the match odds but the best value is in backing them at around even money, currently [1.92], to overcome a 6.5 point handicap.

Cheika's side have shown a bit of mental toughness throughout this tournament. When they were down to 13 men because of two yellow cards against Wales they didn't whine at refereeing decisions, they simply ground out a few amazing minutes of fantastic defending to make sure the opposition didn't score a try. Rajiv Maharaj brilliantly called them the "brick wall Wallabies" and that just about summed it up.

Of course they made some mistakes against the Scots which meant a match they won 5-3 on tries finished far closer. But the mentality is the key, as well as some flair - Drew Mitchell's double put him within one more score of equalling the World Cup record of 15 tries currently held jointly by Jonah Lomu and Bryan Habana.

Last point. Even when Joubert had awarded that penalty, somebody had to be cool enough to kick it straight. Bernard Foley had been making more mistakes than most until that point, but when it mattered he stepped up.

That's why you can put your money on the Wallabies this weekend, and this time they shouldn't need any help from a dodgy referee. No arguments.


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