Wales coach Warren Gatland says a “terrible mistake” by the television match official cost his side the chance of an upset victory over England at Twickenham.
England edged a gripping Six Nations arm wrestle 12-6 on a raw afternoon but things could have been different had Wales fullback Gareth Anscombe’s try been allowed to stand before the interval.
After two Jonny May tries had given England a 12-0 lead, Anscombe appeared to have marginally won a race with Anthony Watson to touch down a loose ball over the England line.
However TMO official Glenn Newman deemed otherwise, instructing French referee Jerome Garces to rule it out.
New Zealander Newman said Joseph had got their first and that Anscombe had failed to make a connection when the ball was on the ground.
Gatland, whose side have now won only one of their last six away games in the tournament, was left mystified by the call.
“It looked like a try to me, everyone else I have spoken to who has seen it said it looked like a clear try,” he told reporters. “To me that’s disappointing that they got that decision wrong at such a pivotal moment in the game.
“They flew a guy over to do a TMO and he has one big call to make and he unfortunately made a terrible mistake.
“I just struggle on the wording. He said that England got there first and there was no clear downward pressure. I saw that completely different. I thought Gareth got there first and there was clearly downward pressure.
“It’s human error. But in front of 82,000 people when there’s a lot at stake these guys have to get these decisions right. That looked a clear cut one to me.”
Wales and Dragons second row Cory Hill beleives a losing bonus point could yet prove decisive with three rounds of the tournament still to go.
“Everyone is pretty disappointed, coming away with a losing bonus point isn’t the worst result but unfortunately things didn’t stick for us,” said Hill, who was second behind flanker Josh Navidi in the tackle charts.
“We were under the pump in the first 20 minutes and they won the game off that really.
“We weren’t at our best and unfortunately unlike last week (against Scotland) things didn’t stick. We lost the aerial battle early on in the kicking game.
“We are very disappointed and need a big week of training and then it’s over to Ireland for a big one.
“Scott Williams said in the huddle on the pitch afterwards that we have been here before, lost a game and come back to win the championship, so the boys have still got to be confident.
“We put a decent performance in and were still going to try and pinch the win towards the end, so hats off for the boys for digging in. Hopefully we can turn it around and get a win out in Ireland.”
England coach Eddie Jones preferred to steer clear of the no try controversy, heaping praise on his side who have now won 15 consecutive home games in the Six Nations.
“I don’t know why people say we’re lucky with the refereeing decision. The TMO has all the time in the world to make his decision and I never get involved in what is decided,” he said. “He made a decision and you get on with it.”
What really impressed Jones however was the disciplined defending that enabled England to preserve their lead despite failing to score in the second half – ultimately sealing a 15th successive home win in the tournament.
“It was a win built around a lot of courage, a lot belief in the team. We had a short turnaround. We knew we had to play a certain way to beat Wales today and the execution was outstanding. The effort in defence was first class.”
“Just as in the Australia game in November it showed we can win an arm-wrestle, we can hang in there, we can find a way to win and that’s an important habit to have,” he said.
Holders England slipped behind Ireland at the top of the table on points difference but remained on course for an unprecedented third successive Six Nations title.
Elsewhere Ireland crushed Italy 56-19 to make it two Six Nations wins out of two, running in eight tries to secure their first bonus point of the championship.
After Johnny Sexton’s last-gasp drop goal rescued a win in Paris a week ago, Joe Schmidt’s side could not have asked for an easier afternoon but the eight-try victory could have come at a cost through the loss of prop Tadhg Furlong and centre Robbie Henshaw to injury.