IRB having the last laugh?
George Clancy (Gallo Images)
Brisbane – So what could still have gone wrong on the tour from hell?
Another Irish referee in a Tri-Nations Test?
What about an Irish referee that pulls out the yellow cards even quicker than his compatriots?
That is precisely what the Springboks got at the Suncorp Stadium. And more.
While George Clancy can probably justify his early yellow card against Jaque Fourie with a similar one against Quade Cooper, both were ridiculous.
And how on earth could he allow Wallaby flank David Pocock to play off-side for the entire match and then sin-bin BJ Botha for not rolling away?
The International Rugby Board’s (IRB) refereeing body is clearly having the last laugh after the debacle in which Springbok coach Peter de Villiers questioned whether referees were impartial.
An attack on one referee is considered an attack on all and now the Springboks are coming off second best.
The fact of the matter is that Saturday’s Test was again not a fair and equal one. And the referee has to take the blame for that. It was shocking, to say the least.
Yes, the Springboks and their management should perhaps talk less and do more because there are clearly problem areas in the team.
The players are not tackling well, their finishing is poor and their discipline not up to scratch.
Clancy played a big role in the six penalties that the Aussies slotted, but it was the Boks who lost their own lineout ball just before half-time because of a misunderstanding. This allowed Drew Mitchell in for a try from which the Wallabies led 17-3 at half-time.
There were also encouraging signs. The Bok scrum was again strong, the lineout good and even a rolling maul or two could be launched.
But there were again a number of poor kicks that the Wallabies could use to launch counter-attacks.
Bryan Habana also looks a shadow of the player that had world rugby at his feet and Jaque Fourie only started playing with confidence in the last few minutes.
And how does the coaches’ logic work?
The previous week Danie Rossouw was substituted because he was already on a yellow card, but on Saturday Fourie (also on yellow) was kept on the field and Wynand Olivier taken off.
Rossouw had another big game. His work-rate was incredible and his physical presence at the breakdown immense.
He lost the ball in contact once, but was the best Bok on the field by some distance.
Fourie’s yellow card after scarcely three minutes for a dangerous tackle did not lead to the Boks having to play catch-up rugby this time and Matt Giteau could only give the Wallabies the lead after the centre had returned.
Morné Steyn equalised shortly afterwards, but the Boks’ problems started after that.
Pocock dominated the breakdowns illegally and Bok attacks simply did not yield points.
Meanwhile, Habana was penalised for off-side play, but James O’Connor not. That gave Giteau the chance to make it 6-3.
He added two more penalties before Pocock was finally penalised close to his own goal-line.
The Boks opted for the scrum and were awarded a free kick, but were penalised in ensuing play and this allowed the Wallabies to kick the ball out.
The second half started equally badly. Kankowski was penalised in front of the posts due to another Clancy blunder and when Botha got a yellow card for not rolling away, O’Connor made it 23-3.
Cooper later received a yellow card and a host of Bok substitutes were sent on, with Juan de Jongh and Dewald Potgieter making an obvious impact.
Fourie found a way through and Gurthrö Steenkamp also scored after a good lineout move. Suddenly a fightback looked possible.
However, Will Genia, who was a threat around the rucks all game, slipped past Flip van der Merwe’s tackle and it was all over.