The Reds played the Highlanders in the last round of the Super 14 in a dead rubber that turned out to be one of the most enjoyable games of the weekend. It had it all, with the Quade Cooper show once again coming to town, and then this big punch-up that happened after an alleged eye-gouge from Jimmy Cowan.
The season ended on a high for the Reds as they beat the Highlanders 38-36 in what was a great game of rugby that went back and forth in the second half after the Reds had taken the early lead.
They once again had a man sent off the field though, after lock Van Humphries was carded for lashing out which basically started this mass brawl. Its the eighth time theyve had a player carded this season, causing concern for coach Ewen McKenzie.
“Why are we doing it more than anybody else? Is it youthful exuberance or stupidity or whatever. Eight yellow cards is 80 minutes of rugby without a player. So we’ve played one game a player short. And for every card is a try, if not more. Two against the Hurricanes,” he said of their season, in which they finished an impressive fifth.
Cowan appeared to rake the face or headgear of Humphries, who retaliated, resulting in almost every player on the field getting involved. Not too many punches landed, but it is surprising (refreshing?) to see players go all out in the modern days of citings and TV analysis. Ironically though, nobody has been cited or suspended since.
“I’m not sure what happened there, well have to have a look at the video,” said McKenzie. “Anyone who knows Van Humphries knows he doesnt come up swinging for no reason. In the end we got a yellow card and it cost us a try against us again.
“We’re actually working on an analysis of the yellow cards in the competition, about us and how they fit in and what impact they have on the game because in a Super rugby match they are almost guaranteed tries for the opposition,” he added.
Last week we featured a clip of
Nathan White punching Al Baxter
, with referee Steve Walsh taking no action. Walsh was once again involved in this incident, but he handled it well and simply sent off the guy who, in his view, threw the first punch. Its got to be said that Walsh had a better game overall too, demanding far less TV time than usual.
If theres time this week, Ill try get a video up of the match highlights as there was plenty to be enjoyed in a ding dong battle that dished up an adequate helping of great tries.