A series marred by contentious referee decisions ended in fitting style as New Zealand and France disputed a key ruling in the third Test.

Ireland whistler John Lacey earned praise and derision in equal doses on Saturday after awarding a pivotal try to All Blacks five-eighth Damian McKenzie on the stroke of halftime.

It put the hosts 21-14 ahead before powering clear after the break to win 49-14 and sweep the series.

McKenzie coasted across from a simple scrum move, having had his way opened up when Lacey himself blocked the path of would-be French tackler Baptiste Serin.

The tourists were seething after Lacey reviewed footage of the try and stuck with his decision, adhering to the law book which has no reference to a referee obstructing a tackler.

Les Bleus coach Jacques Brunel believes the Irishman should have used his discretion.

“It seems quite clear and quite straightforward that if a player or referee should obstruct the play, then it should be dealt with,” he said.

McKenzie later said he “got away with one” and admitted he had attempted to take a quick conversion to prevent Lacey from undertaking a review.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen disagreed with the playmaker, backing his own knowledge of the law book.

“The referee’s got to stand somewhere. It’s not our fault that our guy ran close to where he was standing,” Hansen said.

“I think people are clutching at straws there. What are they wanting him to do – click his fingers and disappear or something?”

Law 6.10A addresses the ball or ball-carrier coming into contact with a referee and states that, in the event of an advantage being gained, play should restart with a scrum.

Before the Test, Hansen called on France to stop complaining about officiating.

The tourists have seemingly been treated harshly by the awarding and non-awarding of cards throughout the series, including the hotly debated sending off of fullback Benjamin Fall in the second Test.

Kiwi-born French prop Uini Atonio said any Test against the All Blacks was like playing against 16 men.

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