Jade Stadium @ Lancaster Park
Friday 27th August, 1999
Ok, lets get this over with.
Steve Walsh Jnr refed these two teams last year in the NPC Semi's, and we don't have to be reminded what happened that day. But whatever the result, the performance of the ref was top notch.
Mr. Walsh had his moments of poor refereeing last year, but lets say that he appears to be a faster starter this year. Not that he had a flawless game, there were a couple too many forward passes that weren't pinged, but then the Touch Judges didn't spot them either.
Right from the start Mr. Walsh was doing the two things that we have come to expect of good referees, he played lots of advantage, and he had a go at sorting out the scrums. The scrums didn't seem to want to be sorted out for most of the first half, but they were pretty much brought under control - which as good an example of cooperation as you are ever likely to see from two sets of forwards.
The real problem for the Ref was his positional play, he seemed to want to be in the thick of it, and his preference appeared to be "first five eighth". He didn't ever obstruct play, but there were several passes that were thrown around him. Doesn't really make it easy for the inside backs!
His other little foible is that he speaks a bit to much, that is, gives too much of an explanation. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but there is a line where people stop listening to you, and Mr. Walsh was perilously close to crossing it.
Don't want to say too much about the game except for Scott Robinson's efforts, that tackle by Angus Gardner on Matthew Cooper, and Ben Blair who obviously didn't get the message that the rest of the team had got - to play damn ordinary! No, Ben Blair would have even peeled the oranges for half time with flair, but it looks like he won't have to do that for the rest of the season!
One other thing was that Mal Arnold came on and looked good at 1st 5, at least better than Leon Macdonald did, but when going forward Macdonald looked pretty good at 2nd 5. Ah... if only the level of errors were lower!
Pretty much a forgettable game, all and all, unless you like your Rugby Team dressed in Yellow... Red and Black.
Damn-it... I hate it when that happens!