MELBOURNE, May 13 (Reuters) - Canterbury Crusaders prop Joe Moody has been cited for striking Kurtley Beale during Saturday’s home win over the New South Wales Waratahs but the decision has been dismissed as ‘too little, too late’ by enraged Australian rugby fans.
In an off-the-ball incident, the All Blacks loosehead raised his elbow into Beale’s jaw late in the first half, flattening the Wallabies’ inside centre, before collecting a pass and scoring the Crusaders’ first try.
Local referee Ben O’Keeffe and an all-New Zealand roster of officials allowed the incident to go unpunished and the try stood.
It proved to be a decisive moment as the Crusaders, who had been trailing 29-0 before the incident, ran over three tries in the following minutes before halftime and eventually overhauled the Waratahs 31-29.
The citing commissioner had found the incident “had met the Red Card threshold for foul play,” governing body SANZAAR said in a statement on Sunday.
The Crusaders victory extended New Zealand’s winning streak over Australian Super Rugby sides to 39 straight matches.
Moody was slammed in Australian media for the “cheap shot” on Beale and the citation did little to ease the indignation.
“The Crusaders won 31-29, but they know they didn’t deserve the chocolates,” a blogger on Australian sports website The Roar wrote.
“And Ben O’Keeffe doesn’t deserve another game of rugby.”
Waratahs’ New Zealand-born coach Daryl Gibson, a former Crusader, said after the game that O’Keefe had missed the incident but declined to blame the oversight for the loss.
“It’s an elbow to the head, so I’m sure the powers to be will look at that,” he said.
Editing by Peter Rutherford