Bruce Stadium, Canberra, Australia
7:35 pm (9:35 pm NZST)
Temperature - slightly better than the next day... when it snowed!!!!
Referee - Mr. Andrae Watson (South Africa)
Truly a game worthy of a few cliches:
It WAS a game of two halves!
Rugby WAS the winner!
The Referee IS a c*nt!
Actually I didn't think that Mr. Watson really surprised anyone with his display. The man himself is a cliche! And not a very flattering one at that.
The game had barely started when the mauling team was allegedly told to use the ball (I didn't hear the call) and when they didn't, they lost possession. It didn't seem to be critical at the time, but I now think that it may have a real impact on the game plan of the Brumbies. There certainly weren't many rolling mauls in the rest of the game!
The audience at Cone stadium insisted that I restate that although Mr. Watson missed a few things, he made up for it by pinging things that didn't actually happen!
Mr. Watson called on the services of Touch Judge Tape Henning who reported that Somerville had put on his crampons, and climbed Mt. Brumbie-forward-laying-all-over-the-ruck (I think the aborigine name is "Stupid-f**k"). That his sherpa was Greg Feek didn't seem to be important. The fact that the ball popped out on the other side seemed to have more relevance, the rucking was ajudged to be unnecessary and therefore an offence.
Not that I have any real problem with the yellow card. But it is either vicious or not, and you shouldn't be apologising for sin binning someone. Maybe "Sorry, but you are off" is just a figure of speech to Mr. Watson. If so he should rephrase it to be less confusing.
Something more like, "I would just give you a warning... but you are a prop, so I know that I have to give you 10 minutes in the bin so that the warning will sink in!"
The amount of advantage that was played was a credit to Mr. Watson, and the fact that he even ruled some advantage to be over was even better. A less picky referee would have much less to say, especially in the second half. However we all know that this would be too much to expect from Mr. Watson. So although many of his decisions were spot-on, they were partnered with some incorrect and many ridiculously pedantic decisions.
Andrae is a worry, and I don't think that he is ever going to get any better. So stuff him, lets talk about something interesting.
We never doubted that the Crusaders had it in them, we just doubted that they could get it out and win the final with it.
Well I at least was a doubter until half time. By then I was quite happy! Yes sir (/madam) there is nothing like mostly screwing up your oppositions game plan and competently running riot with the ball in hand, to make a fan feel good. We were lucky that Stirling was having trouble clearing his throat, but you can't blame the R & Bs and Mr. Watson for giving him the opportunity!
Actually I do and have, but I meant to imply that if you wish to whinge (and I know that Australians don't lower themselves to do that Pommie sort of thing ;-) then start it with a few words like "If we had managed to take all the opportunities offered to us..."
This game had real appeal to a wider audience because it was so close, both teams played so well, and the lead changed hands twice in the last 10 minutes. This is exactly what the Rugby Bosses and their money making hangers on like, and lets face it, ACT and Canterbury aren't exactly the most populous regions, we could hardly justify the live coverage alone!
If you were an Auckland Blues supporter, annoyed that your team didn't get into the semi's, you would be looking to watch a game that demonstrated that these two teams were playing the best rugby possible. (Certainly better than the Blues.)
Nothing would piss you off more than to see a game that the Chiefs could have won!
The game had its moments of sheer brilliance and gross stupidity, and there was some measure of luck. But the chances taken were the enjoyable part - the charge downs that turned into running opportunities for the Crusaders will keep me happy for some time to come! What about that corner flag, clearing kick from Mark Robinson? Get the man an All Black jersey!!
I wonder if the tide might have turned if the game had continued for 5 more minutes. The last penalty was the first time that a Brumbie had run up without support. It was the first sign that our defense was tiring out the Brumbies loose forwards. The game might have opened up!
However it pays to be content with the things that actually happened, so I will choose to make do with my team winning the Super 12 for the third year in a row. Impressive?... well... it's good for a start!
!!! GO YOU GOOD THINGS !!!