Stadium Australia, Sydney
Saturday, 28th August 1999
Jim Fleming (England)
Like me you may have been looking for a bit of an uplifting experience from this game. Hell, I sure needed it after the game on Friday!
It would be easy to blame Jim Fleming for the result of the game. The only problem is that it wasn't his fault! Unfortunately he was only too correct in most of his decisions.
He did seem to play a bit of advantage, but it isn't his strong suit. He is much better at giving penalties.
Oh, and he was sorely tempted! Did you see the time he almost whistled... he managed to restrain himself for almost 2 seconds... before he gave in and gave a penalty.
Sure he was pedantic, but he was consistently pedantic. You can't really ask for more. In the end, if a Ref isn't exactly what you would wish him to be, at least you want to be able to work out what "works" for him - preferably some time before the end of the game.
It wasn't a mystery with Jim, as it can be with some other refs, take Derek Beven for example.
Out of the three British refs that we have seen in the Tri-Nations, I would rank Jim Fleming best of a bad bunch. In fact I would go further than that, and say that Jim is better than the bad bunch.
And the other positive thing we can take out of our Tri-Nations Ref experience is "Thank your favorite deity they won't be able to referee the ABs' pool match against England!" (Just forget for the moment that Derek is Welsh, not English! No!! Stop thinking about it!)
And now for the game, I have to agree with one NZer who flew over for the match. She said that she was "at least expecting a fight". Well we got one of those, but that wasn't what she meant.
The play of the ABs was crap!
Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap! If they aren't careful I'm going to start supporting the Warriors!
I wish to comment on one after-match quote from John Hart . It was "I can't put my finger on just what went wrong!"
I have two things to say
a) If the AB Coach doesn't know, who the hell does?
b) Have a little listen to "talk back radio" John, they will be pleased to tell you!
But enough despondency! Any match that may make the Australian's too cocky, the rest of the world underestimate the ABs, and give the ABs a good wake-up call, can't be too bad!!