I love rugby, it is a beautiful game in its intricacies, but it is those same intricacies that make it great that also contribute to one of my greatest hates of the game – bad refereeing. It’s exceedingly difficult to referee a game of high quality, high stakes rugby. Every referee calls it differently – some are anal about scrums, some are anal about the breakdown, others don’t call anything and others are just simply blind.
As a suffering Wallabies fan I believe we have been on the wrong side of some very bad and very missed calls over the years, especially when a Kiwi is calling the game (Wales was onside maybe twice in 80 minutes last night, for example). Past Wallabies players have complained bitterly to ref (*cough* George Gregan *cough*), hoping to ‘assist’ the ref in making sure the next call goes the way of the Wallabies. It never worked.
Last night we saw a fresh approach to referee relations by recently anointed captain David Pocock. Pocock not only had a barnstorming game, coming a close second in man of the match-ness to, ahem, Berrick Barnes, but he also took it upon himself to compliment the referee. He had kind words to say to referee Chris Pollock when his own team was penalised for something or rather (there wereso many penalties last night) early in the game and he also had kind things to say when Wales was penalised.
Did this result in the penalty on the 80th minute of the game that led to Michael Harris’ game winning penalty conversion after the siren to win the game? Probably not, but anything that casts the Wallabies in a kinder light to the referees is fine by me. Anything to get an edge. I want that damn Bledisloe back.
When James Horwill comes back from injury Pocock has to retain the captaincy. He’s been excellent in the past 2 Tests, not just as a player, but as a leader as well.
Fox Sports Live
Greg Clark, Greg Martin, Phil Kearns, Rod Kafer
Rod Kafer’s declaration of having eaten “200,000 pies while in Canberra”. Kafer kept up the foody talk later in the game, claiming that his diet of “lots of salt & vinegar chips” kept cramps away.
Now Onto The Game:
Exactly what you would expect from Bryce Lawrence. By the end of the game the Brumbies fans were hating him as much as the South African fans. He missed an obvious knock on late in the game and called penalty after penalty throughout. Perhaps he was keen to give Nic White and James Stannard practice – they definitely need it.
Brumbies 19 Force 17
Tries – J Mogg, R. Coleman
Pen – N White 3
Tries – J Stannard
Pen – J Stannard 4
The Brumbies choice of pre-kick off music is brilliant – “Lux Aeterna” by Clint Mansell from the Requiem For A Dream score. That’s enough to fire anyone up to steal the ball in rucks like they were stealing their mother’s TV.
A not so inspired choice is to play a brumby “neighing” when they kick off. It sounds like a recording from a glue factory.
Canberra Stadium has erected a giant McDonald’s M at the southern end of the ground. Perhaps it’s there as motivation for Ita Vaea, or perhaps it helps to get him running in the right direction.
Those electronic advertising boards flashed and scrolled harder than Sonic the Hedgehog. This game should have came with an epilepsy warning.
It was also very nice of the Brumbies fans that actually attended the game to be so quiet that we could hear every word said on the ground on the broadcast. The highlight for me was when Nic White was attempting another penalty shot from the sideline and you could hear one angry fan screaming “You get bonus points for scoring tries, y’know!”
These were few and far between in what was quite obviously the first game of the season for these sides. Scratchy game all round.
The first half was mostly a kicking duel between Nic White and James Stannard. Unfortunately these guys are not Jonny Wilkinson or Dan Carter. Stannard kicked an easy one right in front to open the scoring, then a minute later White potted an easy one to even the scoring. The kicking highlight of the night was White’s 53m penalty kick that soared over the black dot. It was a huge kick. After that things went downhill on the kicking front.
It was a kicking duel only because the discipline from these sides was terrible and Bryce Lawrence being Bryce Lawrence, was more than happy to call them every single time. Penalties were 7-6 to the Brumbies at the 34 minute mark. Principal Strickland was yelling slacker so much he fell of his porch.
Moore’s first line out throw of the season was more crooked than his nose. He really has to stop using that shnoz as a guide.
Nathan Charles’ first thrown in wasn’t much better, but for whatever reason it wasn’t called.
The first try of the game came from a great short pass by Matt Toomua off a 5 metre scrum. He did the Gregan shuffle 2 steps to the right and fired it right onto the chest of Jesse Mogg who blasted through a gap wider than Northbourne Avenue.
Shockingly, White missed the conversion from an absolute pisscutter of a position. He hooked it further than I do off the 1st tee at Thredbo. Fortunately for the ball boys it didn’t end up in a river though, unlike my ball.
Stannard scored every point for the Force, including a nice try on an open wing in the second half. This brought the score to 19-17 and if he had been able to convert his own try the last 20 minutes of the game might actually have been interesting.
The crowd got overly excited when either team ran with the ball for more than 5 metres. The key to getting fans back into Canberra Stadium? Run with the ball, score tries. Unfortunately this game was so dull that the Canberra Raiders have a fair chance of stealing fans back this year based on this game alone.