Scottish Ref A Serious Threat To Cup Hopes
Taking nothing away from the Wallabies victory - they played very well and the All Blacks poorly - but there are lessons for World Cup contenders, fans and organisers in the refereeing of tonight's Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney.
Firstly, just in case you had forgot, a poor ref can destroy what might otherwise be a entertaining running rugby match. And secondly, anyone punting on an All Black victory will need to be hoping Scotland's Jim Fleming isn't officiating the World Cup final.
There should be no doubt. Officiating is what Fleming does. This ref is penalty mad. He operates on one rule, whenever anything happens, however minor, shove your hand in the air and blow.
As to the Australian RFU's alleged instructions to the ref to let the game flow. Maybe they just gave him a watch instead.
And while Fleming's defenders will point to the final penalty count as evidence of his impartiality. The importance of penalties comes primarily from where, and when they are awarded not the final numbers.
The final score was 28 - 7 to the Wallabies with a try to each team (Andrew Mehrtens and Mark Conners) and 7 penalties kicked by Matt Burke.
Several penalties awarded inside All Black's half to the All Blacks - All Blacks making lots of mistakes.
8 mins - penalty Australia - Matt Burke - 3 nil
11 mins - penalty Australia - Matt Burke - 6 nil
14 mins - try Andrew Mehrtens (10)- down the blind side from scrum 60metres, "Governor" George Gregan (9) misses tackle, Burke and Little collide - under the posts - 6- : 7
20 mins - penalty New Zealand (after a very long advantage is played on the Australian line) - Mehrtens misses - 6 : 7
25 mins - penalty Australia - 45 metres - Matt Burke 9 : 7
29 mins - penalty Australia - 25 metres - Matt Burke 12 : 7
30 mins - penalty Australia - 45 metres - Matt Burke 15 : 7
(33 mins - frustration starting to show - fight on Australian line, the first in International play involving the All Blacks for a long time)
40 mins - try to Wallaby debutante Mark Conners - impressive rolling maul followed by rush to the line - converted by Matt Burke - 22 : 7
HALF TIME (Penalties awarded 9 to Australia, 6 to New Zealand - commentators say All Blacks look jaded and are not playing well)
Jonah Lomu comes on for Darryl Gibson (12) - Cullen moves to center, Andrew Blowers on for Dylan Mika in forwards.
All Blacks start explosively with Lomu in the thick of things. Unfortunately they then slow down and recommence going backwards and making mistakes.
Rain starts. And then gets really heavy. Then stops.
After the rain stops the ref starts doling out the penalties again.
18 mins - penalty Australia - Matt Burke - 25 : 7
22 mins - Royce Willis on for Robin Brooke (who has broken hand)
Penalties now 11 each.
24 mins - Andrew Mehrtens and Justin Marshall (Canterbury) off for Tony Brown and Jason Kelleher (Otago).
26 mins - Norman Maxwell knocked out - replaced Craig Dowd.
30 mins - forward pass from Umaga to Cullen on the break.
36 mins - Australian scrum monsters the All Blacks - followed by a penalty to Australia - Matt Burke - 28 : 7
Penalties 15 to 14 in favour of the All Blacks.
FINAL SCORE 28 - 7 WALLABIES VICTORY - ONE