7:35 pm NZDT
Halftime 32 - 0
Fulltime 41 - 19
I'm sure that more will be said about the play of the game. All I wish to add is:
(1) Crusaders - You bloody beauties !!!
(2) Blues - thank you for getting off the "down-trou" !-)
Well the long farewell of Paddy O'Brien has started. The commentators had me tying myself a hangman's noose extra early with their lament that "this may be the final time Paddy refs these two teams".
At that stage (before the game) I charitably allowed that they might meet again in a semi, or final.
But now I don't know - at least for the Blues!
And maybe for Paddy as well.
Overall I think that Paddy had a good game, although there was plenty for each side to whinge about.
I am glad to say that most of the justified whingeing incidents happened to the Blues rather than my boys - but lets discuss them to death anyway !-)
Megs try. Ok so Marshall's hair style and that of Meg Ryan have diverged of late, but you know who I'm talking about, and you also know why that try is a talking point.
If you said it was a classical try, it would be because it was a try in 3 movements:
1) The first was Marshall landing - like most experienced players he landed on his elbows, keeping the ball above the ground.
2) He then reached forward (reached - being a fairly loose term for the effort required to lunge your arms and the ball forward 300-400 mm when some great lump and his mates are forming a "dog pile" on top of you) to place the ball.
3) A Crusaders forward drove into the players resulting in the whole lot shifting forward about another 150 mm or so. I believe that man was Norm Maxwell, but it may have been Chris Jack.
The result is that Marshal was eventually unearthed with the ball squarely on the try line.
So Paddy went upstairs - and this I feel is the crucial port - he asked a very specific question of the Video Ref. He said that he was happy with the grounding but wanted to check that there wasn't a double movement.
Now of course you highly edumicated Rugbyheads people know that a player is allowed to reach out to ground the ball, as long as it hasn't already been grounded. The player may not however move the rest of their body forward in any way.
And this is undeniably what Meg did. The only infinitesimal problem is that if he managed to touch the try line it must have been either by the merest whisker or due to a blade of white painted grass being drawn into contact with the ball due to mutual gravitational attraction - cause it didn't really look like he got the ball down on the line.
Of course the third movement - the "diving drive" did put the ball squarely on the line.
So I was sitting there murmuring to myself that probably the benefit of the doubt ruling should be no try.
Of course I was very happy to hear that it was actually a try and after castigating myself with a handily prepared spiked club I was heartily happy with the look of the score-board.
So that doesn't make you Auckland supporters any happier I guess. So for you I will expand to say that I think the question asked by Paddy forced the Video Ref to say - "No Paddy there wasn't a double movement." To which Paddy then thought to himself "since I am happy that the ball was properly grounded - iiitttttt's try time!"
But lets face it the Blues were getting killed. The lineouts were a mess, and those canny Blues just couldn't figure out that letting one of the R&B giraffes jump in front of you is a sure way to loose your lineouts!
The ball was tumbling all over the place, away from the hands of players in Blue and into the hands of players in Red & Black.
And then the penalty try!!!
This one was about as messy as most penalty tries and it doesn't look any better when viewed in replay, because it makes Scott Hamilton look like a "ham actor" of the worst degree.
I hope very much that Robbie plays that tape along with a selection of players reaching for the ball and actually grabbing hold of it - Rangi McDonald's catch & try, Caleb Ralph's gather & try, and at least one other - possibly even Joe RockStar's reflex gather and try.
Having played these four pieces of footage, he should turn to the assembled players and say those immortal words "One of these things is not like the others... one of these things just isn't the same..."
He should then humiliate Scott Hamilton just enough so that he retains the confidence he is thankfully showing this year, but bloody well makes an honest attempt to grab the ball and touch it down in the "in goal" - instead of Hollywooding like some overpaid soccer player for a penalty.
(Yes thank you... I do feel better now)
Really the rest of the game was dominated by the player rather than the ref - including the red carding of Ali Williams. I strongly suspect that Ali has a "Justin Harrison shrine" at home - in which case I am very very worried for the young man.
Remember that children... you must be very careful when you choose your heroes.
Although you could never go wrong with our mate Black Toddadder! (Hi BT - it's been too long mate)