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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Defending champion Reds blown away by the Sharks in Brisbane

The Sharks lived up to their reputation of being a strong travelling side as they beat the Reds 30-17 in Brisbane to set up a Super Rugby semi final clash with the Stormers in Cape Town next weekend. The Final will be a New Zealand vs South Africa affair.

The Sharks played an expansive game and reaped rewards as they got off to a 17-0 lead following great tries from JP Pietersen and Paul Jordaan. Scrumhalf Charl Macleod then scored an intercept try early in the second half.

The Reds did their best to get back into the game but injury disruptions and some incredible defence from the visitors meant that the home side were knocked out of the competition. 

Will Genia said after the game that he felt a strange call from the TMO and referee left them without a certain try, which could have perhaps been a turning point in the game. As it was, the visitors were the better side on the night, and can look forward to a South African derby semi final.

"It was an epic game of rugby and the tempo was right there from the off," said captain Keegan Daniel of the win at a venue where the Reds had been victorious in 21 of 23 previous occasions. 

The Reds were the top Australian side so had the home qualifier, which means the Sharks' travel schedule has become quite significant. They flew from South Africa to Australia, now will fly back home and if they beat the Stormers, will then need to fly back to New Zealand for the final.

"I'm so proud of my guys to win away from home like that," said coach John Plumtree. "It was always going to be a big effort, the Reds are an outstanding side. We knew they would come to this game with a great deal of belief and with a big crowd behind them."

Posted at 7:12 pm | 24 comments

Viewing 24 comments

Eggman July 22, 2012 10:48 pm

Great game of rugby. Fair play to the Sharks, they outplayed the Reds in the first half by a mile and were tremendous in defence in the second. The intercept try in the second half really buried the Reds.

Despite all of that I was rather unhappy with the ref (not necessarily blaming him for the loss though). Apart from the TMO decision (not Kaplan's fault) I thought the Sharks should've gotten a yellow earlier in the second. I think to remember that he warned them quite a few times about infringment close to the lines, yet he only gave a yellow once it was too late for the Reds to still turn the game. I remember the (admitadely not exactly unbiased) Aussie comentators saying a few times that the Sharks will/should get a yellow now without Kaplan doing anything..
Was that just me or does anyone else agree?

Once again it just raises the question for me about introducing neutral refs to such important games. I'm not saying that Kaplan deliberatly went on the field determined to let the Sharks win, but I do think it has the potential to influence the referee just a tiny bit in favour of his country of origin. This might not look like much, but considering how many 50/50/interpretation calls there are in rugby it can sway a match quite a bit, if they continually go in favour of one team.
Apart from that it also adds unnecessary pressure to the refs job because fans (like me) are already predisposed to question him even more and it might have the exact oposite effect, that he gives the 50/50 calls to the other team in order not to look biased towards the team of his country.

However, once again, I'm not trying to take anything away from the Sharks by saying that. They did deserve the win after the way they played in the first and defended in the second half.

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Pretzel July 22, 2012 11:57 pm

I'm with you on this one. Again it's not a case of "the ref lost it for the Reds" etc, it is honestly about some sort of line that the referees should not be afraid to cross. I have seen in it NUMEROUS games, both international and club where referee's have given penalty after penalty on a try line with neither a penalty try nor a card.

Personally the quote that a lot of people come out with is that "referee's should not determine the outcome of the game", that phrase is thrown around between referee's making bad calls and referee's giving cards. I personally think if a player deserves a card then he has forced the referee to determine the outcome of a game. I think it sucks a huge amount of momentum out of the game when players continue to infringe without punishment.

I agree that neutral referee's should be brought in for some games like this, then again who do you ask? All the NH referee's are enjoying some downtime in the off season...

Good game by both teams but the sharks deserved the win in the end.

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Eggman July 23, 2012 12:09 am

Well they could've asked an NZ ref, maybe Bryce Lawrence (although Kaplan's probably a better ref than him). However, if Bryce made the same decisions I might fell slightly better about it all because the ref's possible naitonal bias doesn't factor in..

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stroudos July 22, 2012 11:59 pm

I watched the game live on TV, as a neutral spectator and I must say I thought Kaplan was unbelievably biased. I'm sure he wasn't so on purpose, but on all the points you make I really think he was incredibly sympathetic to the Sharks.

I'll give you another example: towards the end of the game but still with the game in reach, the Reds finally got a few good phases of attacking ball, Kaplan warned the Sharks repeatedly for all kinds of infringements and eventually stopped play telling Keegan Daniel to have a word with his players. He duly had a *very* long chat with them all, everyone had a breather and got their defensive shape (which had been creaking slightly for the first time all game) back in order, took the wind right out of the Reds' sails and when they finally got going again all the momentum had gone and the attack came to nothing. Maybe nothing in it, but it was - at best - shit refereeing, in my opinion.

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stroudos July 23, 2012 12:04 am

That Charl McLeod has got a hideous haircut. Now that Andy Goode's finally got rid of that horrendous combover, McLeod now has the worst barnet in professional rugby.

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ruckinmual July 23, 2012 5:43 am

the commentators were extremely biased

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FrontRowBugger July 23, 2012 10:25 am

Really? Biased commentators? the Reds are an Australian team, the match was in Australia (Brisbane) and the commentators are Australian......

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katman July 23, 2012 8:30 am

Ref this, ref that. I’m sure the Sharks would have given up a yellow card or two in exchange for a correct call on the miles forward pass from Genia to Higenbotham in the Reds try. Point is, refs get a few calls wrong in every game, and it goes both ways. I guess you only see the ones you want to.

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Pretzel July 23, 2012 12:31 pm

Katman, don't sound so sour, the whole point is that IF the referee was from a neutral country, then there would only be a bitch about how bollocks he was rather than the possibility of he being swayed by his nationality.

There are hundreds of ways of looking at it, but everyone is saying that it was a little bit unfair looking on the reds more than the sharks...

As for the forward pass, isn't that what SH rugby is all about? I hear so many SH fans telling the NH fans (which I personally disagree with) that one here or one there doesn't matter, because it's fast running rugby...

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katman July 23, 2012 1:24 pm

Me sour? I thought it was the other way round. I was doing my best to de-sour the comments.

And even here in the SH we draw the line at that kind of NFL pass.

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Pretzel July 23, 2012 4:35 pm

Yeh I know a lot of folks who think letting forward passes go is daft. Even if it does mean it holds up some of the running rugby.

No one was saying that Kaplan was a cheat and cheated the reds and this and that. If anything they were saying "yeh ref's make mistakes and that is fine, just next time get a different nationality ref so that they wouldn't be subliminally swayed, or at least supporters wouldn't have the excuse that they were swayed!"...

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jamo July 23, 2012 10:17 am

does it matter about refs? i agree i would prefer a neutral ref, but when a neutral ref puts in one of the most biased performances in recent memory, bryce lawrence in wc semi, then it hardly matters. the simple fact of the matter is aus and nz have very poor refs at the moment. nz doesnt even have a ref on the irb top list.So to have a poor neutral ref v a good possibly biased one...in any event the game was very entertaining and i thought it flowed very well, but i agree sharks should possibly have been yellowed earlier, however it has been the trend this year to yellow less for infringements. hence mccaw and pocock have spent more time on the field!

As for Genia, that was an absolutely disgraceful post match speech. He is not a man, a childish boy.to say the tmo decision was the turning point, if i was the commentator i would have said, "no mate, i think the moment u threw the intercept pass for the try was the turning point".red's didnt even deserve to host the game on points, their attack was predictable and that's why they didnt win.plus the fact the sharks are obviously the better side. contrast this guy with gregan, and one can only prey he never makes wallaby captain.

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Eggman July 23, 2012 1:41 pm

Are you sure you don't mean Craig Joubert in the final? ;-)

The point about the neutral ref is not about whether a non-neutral would do better or not. It's more about perception and added pressure for the ref for me. I don't know if Bryce Lawrence for example would have given a card earlier, but the thing about a non-neutral ref is just that it opens the mind for bias, which it wouldn't as much if the ref were neutral. I remember a lot of kiwis complaining last year when they thought they were robbed by an Aussie ref in a Reds-Crusaders game as well.

Didn't hear the Genia post-match, doesn't make him look good though if he haves a whinge about the ref. Leave that to the news and the fans ;)

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Eggman July 23, 2012 1:41 pm

Are you sure you don't mean Craig Joubert in the final? ;-)

The point about the neutral ref is not about whether a non-neutral would do better or not. It's more about perception and added pressure for the ref for me. I don't know if Bryce Lawrence for example would have given a card earlier, but the thing about a non-neutral ref is just that it opens the mind for bias, which it wouldn't as much if the ref were neutral. I remember a lot of kiwis complaining last year when they thought they were robbed by an Aussie ref in a Reds-Crusaders game as well.

Didn't hear the Genia post-match, doesn't make him look good though if he haves a whinge about the ref. Leave that to the news and the fans ;)

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stroudos July 23, 2012 6:13 pm

"no mate, i think the moment u threw the intercept pass for the try was the turning point"

Absolutely. Notwithstanding the fact I think Kaplan had a very bad game and that TMO decision was a complete joke - and the fact Genia's own team benefited from a very forward pass - he should not be whining about the ref in the post-match interview.

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silasvb July 26, 2012 6:41 pm

I don't have too much of a problem with what Will Genia said. First, he says that the team on the front foot normally gets the rub of the green from the referee, but I think that's him identifying that the Reds didn't play well enough, and second, he says that he didn't understand how the try decision could be inconclusive. As I understand it, Kaplan questioned the TMO about the first grounding, which was not over the line, and hence the try was not given, despite the second grounding potentially being a try. In an ideal world perhaps he shouldn't have asked that question, but I've heard far worse comments from players/coaches, and he wasn't directly critical of the referee.

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stroudos July 23, 2012 6:11 pm


"doesn't make him look good though if he haves a whinge about the ref. Leave that to the news and the fans ;)"

Ha ha, nice one!

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Kiwi Todd July 24, 2012 12:13 am

As a kiwi watching that match, I have no affliations or biased axe to grind, the ref had a shocker by not awarding yellow cards for REPEATED OFFENCES in the scoring zones, regardless of his nationality, he cost the reds any chance of scoring legitimate try's .

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P July 24, 2012 2:25 pm

Well now the Aussies know how it feels to be screwed by the ref in an important final.

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jamo July 24, 2012 3:00 pm

only difference is, boks lost by 1, completely outplayed oz, compared to sharks completely outplaying reds. oh if only the try was given, and a yellow, we would have then only been behind by 10 if we converted it.

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Pretzel July 24, 2012 5:35 pm

It doesn't really matter what the final score is, the fact still remains that if the referee's were giving cards in the correct time frame then they might carry it on into the international duties and therefore make everyone happy with consistency.

I wouldn't sit back and say that the Reds were robbed by the referee, but the fact he made some errors and should have given a card earlier can not be ignored. Would it have had any bearing on the outcome of the game? I doubt it...

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Mr Fishpaste July 24, 2012 6:21 pm

I agree that the yellow card could have been given earlier, in theory, but I do think that the unusually long time that the Sharks spent defending their tryline complicated matters for the ref: Yes the Sharks did concede several penalties in the 'red-zone' but it was not as if they were all in rapid succession. There was quite a gap in time between successive penalties. I'm not saying this is a knock-down argument in favour of withholding the yellow card, but I can see how it could impinge on the ref's thinking.
Furthermore, he may have made some mistakes, but I don't think the ref was biased. There were several calls that could have gone against the Reds and didn't....
...Alas! no ref is perfect, and if they were, what would we all talk about afterthe game!!!

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ruckinmual July 25, 2012 5:37 am

I'm totally agree with you. Refs aren't perfect. Perhaps, the yellow card should has been given earlier, and some calls could have gone against the Reds and didn't.

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Pretzel July 26, 2012 11:16 am

But the whole point is that everyone would fall right back onto the age old "refs are not perfect" quote if the referee was from a neutral country. As he is not, it falls down to the "well was he slightly influenced?" idea...

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