Wallabies coach Michael Cheika believes Australia deserved to beat the All Blacks given how well they played but is refusing to be a gallant loser after his side went down by six points at the death.
Cheika also took a swipe at referee Nigel Owens and his assistants, saying they were tough on the Wallabies throughout the match.
The Wallabies, who got out to a 17-0 lead after 15 minutes to stun the home side, were mowed down after Beauden Barrett scored a match-winner with 144 seconds remaining to give his team a famous 35-29 victory.
While the Wallabies’ fighting spirit might change the narrative of Australian rugby for the time being, Cheika was a shattered man afterwards.
“I am not angry. I am just very, very disappointed because I felt like we did enough to win the game,” Cheika said. “We put everything into it and we wanted to get something out of it.
“The gallant loser thing’s not on. We should have won that game. We know it.
“The people who have been giving it to us will say the other mob had a bad day. I don’t know.
“Over my three years as we have been together, we have got better but we can’t afford to wait that long because we have to win game one and two. It’s just really disappointing that the series is not alive anymore.”
Captain Michael Hooper said: “I was proud of the way we bounced back this week during training. But I am not happy with the result. It still shows an ‘L’ next to the scoresheet. We came here to win, we had confidence we were going to win and we didn’t get that.”
Afterwards, Cheika took aim at match officials and while being interviewed on the field, said: “We did enough and had a few key calls against us at really important times. That’s the way she rolls, maybe the script was written.”
Pressed further on the comments, the Wallabies boss decided to express his confusion as to why All Blacks second-rower Brodie Retallick did not get in trouble for a supposed lifting tackle on Australian back-rower Ned Hanigan.
“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,” Cheika said. “I have to tread lightly here. It was clear to everyone he [Retallick] 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.
“It’s irrelevant if it was fair or not because that’s the way it was officiated. That stuff does not in any way excuse not finishing that game off, with three minutes to go and a kick-off to us.
“There were some calls last year in Auckland and we have been hit again here. I suppose it is just disappointing.”
After having 54 points put on them in the opening 48 minutes of last week’s match in Sydney, the Wallabies restored a degree of public pride with an improved defence and attitude.
“I am always proud and pleased with the team ??? even last week when it was harder to be proud,” Cheika said. “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.
“We dropped a few kick-offs that were really crucial. I was pretty pleased with the game and just some of the improvements in some of the areas that we wanted to work on. At the end of the day, you’ve got to win from there.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was relieved after the match and knew his men were below their best in a match they were expected to win comfortably.
“It’s hard to tell whether they [Australia] have turned the corner,” Hansen said. “They’ve always been a good side. They played some good rugby tonight and they’ll be disappointed. They could have easily won the match.
“To be 17 points down and come back, you’ve got to have good composure and to lose the lead again ??? a lot of sides would have chucked it in but they didn’t and they got the reward for it.”