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The Wrap: Lions transformation sets up epic Super Rugby final

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    Lions coach Johan Ackermann is now only 80 minutes away from fulfilling his dream of departing from Johannesburg with a Super Rugby title, after his side stunned the Hurricanes with 42 minutes of irresistible power rugby, turning a 22-3 deficit into a runaway 44-29 victory.

    Despite only dropping one game in pool play this season, the Lions have struggled to reach the giddy heights of their 2016 performances, and they were extremely fortunate to scrape through their preliminary final last week against the Sharks. But, to the Hurricanes’ cost, it all came together in one half of magic rugby in this semi-final, suggesting that Ackermann has timed his run perfectly.

    It is difficult to recall a rugby team so dominant in one half of rugby, so rapidly converted to road kill in the second, as the Hurricanes were. Captain Dane Coles recognised post-match that rugby is a momentum game and how, once this was conceded to the Lions, they were quickly and brutally shut out of a match that most viewers had already conceded was theirs.

    A scoring run of 41-7 speaks to Lions’ utter dominance, confidence visibly spreading throughout the side and feeding into a crowd that was transformed from deathly silent in the first half to singing loudly by the end.

    The Hurricanes fell away badly but their post-mortem will pinpoint looseness and a lack of clinical finishing precision in the first half. Despite looking the goods at 22-3, their lead should have been over 30 points, handling errors and a lack of composure costing them what turned out to be valuable points.

    Perhaps this was one of those times when everything was coming to them too easily. By the time the Hurricanes realised they were actually in a fight, the Lions had shaken off their lethargy and rumbled through the gears. Their forwards were noticeably more abrasive and it was now Ruan Combrink pulling off the party tricks that Nehe Milner-Skudder had been performing in the first half.

    The Hurricanes haven’t convinced at set-piece time all year, and it was here where the Lions’ resurgence was grounded, tries coming off the back of a strong line-out maul, and penalties (and field position) courtesy of a dominant scrum. Franco Mostert confirmed his rise into the top echelon of South African locks, prop Jacques Van Rooyen was a dominant figure, and sevens champ Kwagga Smith has an incredible knack of always being in the play.

    The Hurricanes’ best were loose forwards Ardie Savea and Brad Shields but, as a whole, their forward unit was overwhelmed when the heat went on. The visitors also suffered when Beauden Barrett was shown a yellow card, leaking 17 points in those ten minutes. Barrett has had his troubles with officialdom this year, but in this case Jaco Peyper was extremely harsh on a player doing exactly what he is supposed to do – roll away from the tackle.

    Lions coach Johan Ackermann

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    That it is the Crusaders who will be the Lions’ finals opponent will surprise no-one, although the manner of their victory in Christchurch was an eye-opener, the Chiefs dominating most of the statistical measures and the run of play yet still losing convincingly, 27-13.

    The Chiefs threw two kitchen sinks at the Crusaders and were worthy contributors to an open, willing match that belied the heavy underfoot conditions. The match also benefited from a relaxed performance from referee Glen Jackson, who recognised that he had two teams who were keen to play football and that his best contribution would be to stand back and let them get on with it.

    Defence is equal parts organisation and structure, attitude and execution, and it was here where this match was won. Forced to make an incredible 185 tackles compared to 66 from the Chiefs, the Crusaders showed how it is one thing to maintain a disciplined, straight defensive line, but another thing to execute those tackles and to keep doing so without infringing.

    The heavy ground and huge workload will take a physical and mental toll, but assuming they recover and aren’t knocked around by the travel, the Crusaders will take great confidence from this effort into the final. They will need to, of course; the Lions have rediscovered their attacking mojo and will be keen to apply intense pressure over the whole match, not just half.

    What sets the Crusaders apart from the other New Zealand teams this year is their composure, starkly demonstrated by their ability to keep accumulating points despite the Chiefs dominating territory and possession.

    Their opening to try to halfback Bryn Hall was a cracker, with telling incisions by Ryan Crotty and Israel Dagg; quality players executing superbly and making good decisions under pressure.

    The Crusaders also never lost their hunger or desire throughout, typified by Richie Mo’unga interrupting James Lowe’s clearing kick, forcing the ball loose, presenting the deciding try to Dagg.


    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    Clearly, the Crusaders have taken plenty from their loss to the British and Irish Lions, developing a more ruthless edge to their game where errors are kept to a minimum and opportunities presented to the opposition – no matter how well they are playing – are few.

    The Chiefs will rightly feel that they played well, and bow out with their heads held high. They were unluckily denied a try in the first half, TMO Glenn Newman intervening to determine that Tim Nanai-Williams failed to maintain control of the ball when diving over.

    Sky Television comments man Justin Marshall justified the decision on the basis that “the technology is there and when it (the vision) is slowed down it shows something different,” but co-captain Aaron Cruden was right to state afterwards that this was “a try every day of the week”, and question whether this is a path that rugby should be heading down.

    Welcome to the murky world of the NRL and the NRC bunker, where pedants delight in separating frames until they inevitably find one that shows minute separation between hand and ball.

    The loss marks Cruden’s final match in New Zealand, along with teammates James Lowe and Tawera Kerr-Barlow. While there is always young talent following behind, anybody who thinks that New Zealand rugby can continue to lose players of this calibre – not to mention the IP of coaches Dave Rennie and Keiran Kane – and not suffer consequences in the future needs to think again.

    One discussion point that can’t be avoided is the size of the crowds; just under 28,000 at Johannesburg and not even half that in Christchurch. Forget talk about how cold it was; these are hardy Christchurch folk we are talking about, people who have undergone far worse than the onset of a heavy frost.

    When the Crusaders, playing a good and consistent brand of winning rugby, can’t draw a decent home crowd – to a final no less – then something is seriously wrong. Have people really become so blasé? Or is the stench of Super Rugby now so bad it permeates even the bastion that is Christchurch and its admiration for their team, the most successful in Super Rugby history?

    Mitchell Drummond Crusaders Super Rugby Union 2017

    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    SANZAAR have an acute problem on their hands. Even if the ARU resolves its current mess and confirms a reduction to four franchises – and there is nothing to suggest this is imminent – the brand is now so tainted that any window dressing to revert to a 15-team competition may be pointless.

    Fans have voted with their feet, their wallets and their remote controls. They want a truly competitive competition, one that is overtly ‘fair’ for all teams, and which rewards teams on the basis of results, not geographic location.

    They care not that SANZAAR’s hands are tied by the broadcasters who pay for the competition, and seem prepared to ride the death wish that is the price of their engagement; a competition on the fans’ terms or not at all.

    Of course, New Zealand fans want to keep winning against Australia, but only after a genuine struggle, not continued walkovers. Australian fans just want a win. South African fans also want to win, but increasingly like the idea of doing so in Dublin instead of Hamilton.

    Once fans are lost it is a very difficult exercise to win them back. It is a puzzle that SANZAAR urgently needs to find an answer to, and while the imminent announcement of the PRO 12 expansion will provide some clarity, SANZAAR might well have less time to get its house in order than it thinks; particularly if the Wallabies find new depths to plumb in the upcoming Bledisloe Cup matches.

    In the meantime, for those of us still with the program, a fascinating and compelling final awaits next weekend. Both the Lions and the Crusaders will make worthy winners, and there is every expectation that fans will be treated to a classic final.

    Will the outcome see the innovative, humble Ackermann head to Gloucester with all his business completed, or will the younger upstart Scott Robertson clear space on the Ellis Park turf to breakdance in celebration of a famous Crusaders victory?

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    The Crowd Says (251)

    • July 31st 2017 @ 6:32am
      Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 6:32am | ! Report

      Cheers, Geoff

      I am curious whether some South African posters might be able to enlighten me as to why playing in the NH is preferable. Is it due to the larger salaries and lack of time changes? I think any move by South Africa to hear north will create a big rift in its relationship with New Zealand (and the Kiwis can have long memories).

      At the end of the day, Cruden was wrong. The replay clearly showed that the ball had been knocked on. Now, yes, he was just above the ground when he lost control, but a knock on is a knock on whether you drop it from a metre above the ground, a foot above the ground or a cm above the ground. You don’t say in tennis ‘oh, Hawkeye says the ball was out, but it was only out by 1 millimetre, and it looked in to the human eye, therefore, we’ll just play the shot as being in’.

      No, a rule is a rule, and Nanai-Williams knocked it on, and the replay showed it.

      Should be a cracking final. Who do you think will win, Geoff? My head says the Crusaders are too good, too defensively strong, too clinic, but my heart says the Lions’ passion and home crowd will get them over the line.

      • Roar Guru

        July 31st 2017 @ 7:20am
        biltongbek said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:20am | ! Report

        Fion, I don’t prefer rugby in the north.

        For me it is simple, either give me super 12, 4 teams from SA, 4 teams from OZ, 4 teams from NZ, where everything is equal, single round robin or give me Currie Cup 14 team competition.

        This convoluted system I protested against from the start, I don’t care if a conference system works for the NFL, or where ever, it is not for me.

        I much rather have Super Rugby with 11 rounds round robin, semi finals and final. Short enough to provide ample time for the Currie Cup to have significance, and long enough to have substance.

        • July 31st 2017 @ 7:30am
          Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:30am | ! Report

          I’m with you regarding round robin, BB. I would prefer to go back to Super 12 (wow, a Brumbies fan who preferred the S12 days, can you believe it?!) but I would even take S14.

          The current competition structure stinks, it’s awful, and by largely protecting the Aussies and South Africans by guaranteed finals spots it weakens us in the long run by not exposing us to proper competition.

          • Roar Guru

            July 31st 2017 @ 7:34am
            biltongbek said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:34am | ! Report

            When Super rugby originally began the cross country matches were the most important, over time the percentage reduced to a point where we were going to play only one third of our matches against Australian and New Zealand teams, that was when my interest started fading

            • July 31st 2017 @ 7:38am
              Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

              Indeed, playing the mighty Bulls in the latter 00s, or the Blues or Crusaders was the ultimate challenge. A win over them made the whole season a success.

              The only better thing was beating the Waratahs.

              The first match I ever attended when I was a child and playing my first year of rugby was the Brumbies vs Cheetahs in Canberra (and it was a Brumbies Masterclass that night) , and so the Cheetahs hold a special place in my heart, and I’m sad to see them go.

            • Columnist

              July 31st 2017 @ 7:39am
              Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

              That one’s a bigger issue for me than the finals seeding BBK. It’s confusing to have SA sides playing some NZ and Aust sides one year and none the next. Fans need a consistent narrative.

              • Roar Guru

                July 31st 2017 @ 9:07am
                sheek said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report


                Love that word “narrative”. So do the pollies.

                Clearly, both ARU & SANZAAR are incredibly poor story tellers. Hopeless really!

              • Columnist

                July 31st 2017 @ 9:11am
                Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

                Get with the program Sheek!

              • Roar Guru

                July 31st 2017 @ 9:28am
                sheek said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

                Geoff – Never!

            • Roar Guru

              July 31st 2017 @ 7:44am
              biltongbek said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

              Agree geoff, for me the tournament has lost its credibility.

            • July 31st 2017 @ 7:47am
              Ed said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

              I agree with you BB on when SR started, the cross country matches were ones I looked out for. I remember being at the Sydney Football Stadium where the Natal Sharks with Andre Joubert, Henry Honiball and Gary Teichmann smashing the Waratahs in 1997.

              I am sure many on the Roar would like to see a straight round robin and finals allocated to those based on their position on the overall table. But broadcasters and many local fans want more derbies, which particularly for SA and NZ fans would encroach on their Currie Cup and NPC competitions.

              As an Australian watching a local derby after a kiwi one, I typically leave the club at half-time as the gulf in class is vast.

            • Roar Guru

              July 31st 2017 @ 7:57am
              biltongbek said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

              Hi Ed, yeah I prefer intercontinental matches above derbies, derbies are plentyful in Currie Cup, no need to see more of them

            • Roar Guru

              July 31st 2017 @ 9:04am
              sheek said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report


              As other Roarers are fond of telling me from time to time, when I wish for something like the old days, we can’t go back. Not exactly anyway.

              All three countries have moved on from the 5 x NZ, 4 x SA, 3 x OZ model of 1996. At least, SA & OZ have. And suggesting NZ should lose a region to assuage OZ is absurd, based on current trends.

              Right or wrong, mostly right, Australian rugby has moved on from 3 provinces to 5. The talent has been created. Unfortunately, almost as many first-class players are plying their trade offshore as they are onshore.

              That is perhaps one thing the ARU didn’t see coming well enough. Or NZRU, or SARU, or SANZAAR. That northern hemisphere money would outstrip southern hemisphere money by such a massive scale that players would abandon their domestic homes for pots of gold far afield.

              That’s why there’s so much angst in Australia about culling a province. It doesn’t matter what the economics says, & economics is only always a guide anyway, to dismantle what has thus far been created, is suicidal.

              That’s also why I suggest we adopt the northern hemisphere model of national domestic comps feeding into a truncated super rugby comp, the Champion’s Cup.

              There’s tough times ahead, but I think fixing the domestic structures has become more important than culling a province to save revenue.

              Okay “brick wall”, did you get all that?

              • July 31st 2017 @ 10:46am
                Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report


                With the benefit of hindsight what Australia needed was either:

                i) a much stronger NRC feeding Super Rugby, and only expanding to 5 teams when the talent could support it;


                ii) a NH-type model of domestic comps feeding a Champions Cup.

                However, you must remember that the Celtic nations (with smaller markets) have a Super Rugby type competition as their primary domestic feeder to the Champions Cup, because their domestic markets are too small to compete with France and England purely domestically.

                Because NZ is a small country, rugby only a minor sport in Aus, and South Africa doesn’t command the same level of economic power that England does, despite similar populations, it might be hard to do the domestic comp thing and keep the top players in the SH.

                This begs the question, is it more important to keep the top players here in the SH or to have independence and control over our future?

                If the former the first suggestion I made is preferable, if the latter, go for the second suggestion (your suggestion/English and French route)

              • Roar Guru

                July 31st 2017 @ 12:30pm
                sheek said | July 31st 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

                Thanks for responding Fionn,

                I would like to think there is a happy medium in there somewhere.

                if money is the prime motivating factor for players, then whatever I suggest is meaningless.

                But if the players themselves feel they have a stake in a competition that appeals to people beyond the administrators, corporate sponsors & TV executives, then my model is defitinetly achievable.

                But if money is the only concern for all parties involved, then I guess this is what we get…..

              • August 2nd 2017 @ 7:27pm
                Francis Myers said | August 2nd 2017 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

                ” adopt the northern hemisphere model of national domestic comps feeding into a truncated super rugby comp, the Champion’s Cup.”
                Best idea I’ve heard all year.

          • Roar Guru

            July 31st 2017 @ 7:38am
            Harry Jones said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

            Fionn, the SA fans don’t necessarily prefer we detach from NZ and go North, but most of the players love it, because (1) 250+ already play in Europe, and many of those are among the best 100 Saffa players; (2) the time zone being the same or -1; (3) travel is easier; (4) salaries will rise faster; (5) the style of play suits early SA training; and (6) the future looks like it’s going that way, with quotas shrinking opportunity to make a big cheque for young white players who aren’t as dominant as Etzebeth.

            • July 31st 2017 @ 6:10pm
              Ed said | July 31st 2017 @ 6:10pm | ! Report


              If/when all the South African SR sides move to NH competition, this would make the teams play at the same time as your Premier Soccer League.

              Apologies for my ignorance but would having the two competitions on at the same time mean they would be vying for spectators at the ground and on the tv, and sponsorship money? Or are these different groups of spectators?

              • Roar Guru

                July 31st 2017 @ 6:34pm
                Charging Rhino said | July 31st 2017 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

                Hi Ed, two different groups of spectators. And there are separate rugby & soccer stadiums (for the most part).
                No competition really.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 10:56am
                Ed said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

                Thanks CR.
                I was always thought it was madness for South Africa to agree to FIFA’s demands on building a stadium in Cape Town so just to appease Sepp’s ego.

            • July 31st 2017 @ 8:12pm
              Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

              Cheers, Harry.

              Hope you guys don’t decide to leave in the end. Would be the end of a great era (and for most of its life, at least the first 15 years anyway, Super Rugby was a great competition).

        • July 31st 2017 @ 8:09am
          mania said | July 31st 2017 @ 8:09am | ! Report

          biltongbek – at a minimum SA has to be playing NZ regularly. super cannot survive without SA and NZ going at each other on a weekly basis. it would be boring otherwise
          whilst i’m greedy and want all my 5 NZ teams in, if keeping SA in super is to cost losing a team then i’m all for it.

        • July 31st 2017 @ 9:52am
          stainlesssteve said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          that’s great in theory, BB,, but cutting one NZ team would be surgery with a high risk of fatality. The only solution i can see when my tongue is in my cheek, is amalgamating the Blues and Chiefs, but in reality, there is history and rivalry that would destroy the comp. I agree, your Currie cup, and our equivalent, convoluted but featuring the fantastic Ranfurley Shield, are to be cherished.

          The super comp has been successful here. (Christchurch crowds would sell out the venue for afternoon games.The SR brand isn’t tainted here; it has produced awesome games)
          Perhaps we could keep all the local derbies, and host just a few internationals, including an Island team. Otherwise, it just won’t fit into the season, as we’re now finding.

          • Roar Guru

            July 31st 2017 @ 2:23pm
            biltongbek said | July 31st 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

            Steve I am only providing my preference, I know it will never happen. Truth be told I stopped caring about Super Rugby when they started the conference system.

        • July 31st 2017 @ 6:29pm
          Slat said | July 31st 2017 @ 6:29pm | ! Report

          Yes a good idea 4×3 nations, but it will mean that SA will have to leave their bassinets and play in NZ and Australia. They can’t always stay within their childcare centres.

          • Roar Guru

            July 31st 2017 @ 6:32pm
            biltongbek said | July 31st 2017 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

            Awesome comment. I am cracking up with laughter.

      • Columnist

        July 31st 2017 @ 7:36am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:36am | ! Report

        The Lions have to be favoured Fionn. The record of the home side in the final can’t be ignored. And the way they played that 2nd half was irresistible – nobody would have stayed with them.

        But the Crusaders are a quality team and have had two tough matches to prepare them well. It’s as good a final as we could have hoped for.

        And – I’ll say it again – we keep getting the two best teams in the final. All of the angst about the seeding and format is overdone.

        • July 31st 2017 @ 1:02pm
          Jibba Jabba said | July 31st 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

          The whole competition has been manipulated and set up for the Lions to win this year: that is a given.

          It will be a test of the the depth of character of the well traveled and altitude effected Crusaders and will there be enough of it – that will be the difference between the two teams.

          I think the Crusaders can do it given they only have to travel 11,500 kms before the game – a few years ago they traveled in excess of 80,000 kms over a season and still made it to the finals which they lost due to fatigue more than anything else.
          An unknown is the effect of the last two weeks games on a heavy muddy surface and the fatigue factor from that. Come on Crusaders.

          • Columnist

            July 31st 2017 @ 2:04pm
            Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

            I know professional sides are well prepared these days JJ, but I agree that two weeks of training and playing on heavy grounds isn’t ideal. Throw in the effects of altitude and there’s going to be some tired boys towards the end of the final.

      • July 31st 2017 @ 9:37am
        rugby7 said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        My Law-book (Law12) defines a ‘Knock-on’ as : “A knock-on occurs when a player loses possession of the ball AND IT GOES FORWARD,….” A vertically dropped ball which does not go FORWARD is therefore NOT a knock-on, but a play-on situation.
        Previous versions of the Law-book used to say something like: “Unless the knock-on or throw forward is clear, the play should continue.” The more recent and more penalty-searching style of rugby seems to have left this positive ruling out, but the Law about “go forward” still should be applied. Refs should be encouraged to reward positive and (even technically) legal play to keep the scoring going.

        • July 31st 2017 @ 10:04am
          stainlesssteve said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

          good point, 7. We see many instances of play stopped when the ball goes clearly backwards.
          Add to that the crooked line-out throws and scrum feeds. Referees are letting these elements of the game degenerate. Also the wheeling and collapsing of scrums…the penalty frequently goes clearly the wrong way. This is easily seen from an aerial view, and i suggest having a side-line official come up to the scrum, to have one each side. Should help a bit.

        • Roar Guru

          July 31st 2017 @ 10:31am
          Carlos the Argie said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

          This is the law:
          A knock-on occurs when a player loses possession of the ball and it goes forward, or when a player hits the ball forward with the hand or arm, or when the ball hits the hand or arm and goes forward, and the ball touches the ground or another player before the original player can catch it.
          ‘Forward’ means towards the opposing team’s dead ball line.
          If a player in tackling an opponent makes contact with the ball and the ball goes forward from the ball carrier’s hands, that is a knock-on.
          If a player rips the ball or deliberately knocks the ball from an opponent’s hands and the ball goes forward from the ball carrier’s hands, that is not a knock-on.

          • July 31st 2017 @ 10:34am
            Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

            I hear what you’re saying rugby7 and stainlesssteve, but as per the law Carlos has stated, it seems clear to me that it was a knock on. He lost control of the ball and it went forward, the fact that his body was moving forward when he lost control of the ball made it seem like it was going backwards, but in reality it fell forwards.

            If I had been the Crusaders and I had seen that replay I would have been fuming at the decision of awarding the try.

            • July 31st 2017 @ 10:44am
              stainlesssteve said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

              If you had been the Crusaders, Fionn, i would have been fuming at you!
              Didn’t see it myself, but if it was a clear infraction, I’m sure i’d have accepted it too. Just bad luck, and it’s only a game.

      • July 31st 2017 @ 5:25pm
        DavSA said | July 31st 2017 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

        A recent poll in SA Rugby mag showed that over 60% of respondents thought it was time to shift North . This was at the beginning of the year and our sides had been embarrassed previous season in both Superugby (excepting The Lions) as well as in The Rugby Championship. Should The Lions win this year I wonder if that same poll will have the same outcome.

      • August 2nd 2017 @ 4:47am
        Cobus Brits said | August 2nd 2017 @ 4:47am | ! Report

        Dont think many Saffers support a total breakaway from Superugby but rather curious to have a glimpse into a rugby league we dont know much about which gave a new lease on life to our two franchises who always suffered a player drain because of various limitations. That might incidentally be the other way round now that they will offer entrance to European exposure.

        It becomes hard to watch our teams almost always come off second best when we all know it is a result of poor administration and politics resulting in poor coaching with no real light at the end of the tunnel to hold out for more. Just when teams start to get breakthroughs, coaches depart like the Bulls’ Heyneke Meyer and now Ackerman. Next it is the players and the fans departing. Pro 14 offers a more level playing field when everything is factored in.
        But it will never compare to Superugby as the true measure -and most die-hard fans know it and for that reason Superugby (if round robins can be revived) will always be the best comp for SA.

        The Crusaders are going to be a tough nut to crack. After watching the Chiefs game, the Saders defence is almost impenetrable and they punish the smallest of mistakes. But it is hard to see how the Lions are going to loose at a full Ellispark.

        With so many Boks and Kiwis in each team, it is almost a mini test. What also struck me is the reversal of type – Lions free flowing style vs Saders conservatism.

        Going to be a cracker, not many games in a year like this.

    • July 31st 2017 @ 6:45am
      Adsa said | July 31st 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

      I went to bed at half time thinking the second half would be a fore gone conclusion and a Canes v Saders final. Well done Lions, I hope they go on with it and get the chocolates.

      • Columnist

        July 31st 2017 @ 7:27am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:27am | ! Report


        hope you slept well but shame you missed it.
        The old cliche “a game of two halves” has never been so starkly demonstrated as in this game.
        Unfortunately for the Canes, the Lions’ half was better.

        • July 31st 2017 @ 9:00am
          Nroko said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report

          Agree. The lead should have been much bigger at half time. Hurrixanes didnt press home the advantage from all the breaks they made. They fluffed more point scoring opportunities in the first half.
          When momentum changed. The Lions were more decisive and direct. They took all opportunities presented to them.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 31st 2017 @ 10:07am
          Russell Neville said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

          Thanks Geoff
          I am glad I stayed up for what was a superb come back by the LIons, momentum and confidence is still an incredible factor in rugby. I am not sure whether Jaco Payper had any choice but to give BB a yellow card. Granted he was trying to roll away but took the ball with him by his feet. It consequently and unfortunately for BB and the Canes ended up (albeit accidental) being foul play in the red zone. There was another incident later that I thought was deliberate and blatant by a Canes player in the Red zone that should have been a yellow.

          • Columnist

            July 31st 2017 @ 10:21am
            Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

            Hi Russell

            The key word there is “accidental”. Penalty against for interfering with the ball but no cynical intent means no card imo.

            Whereas Riccetelli dived in from an offside position, that’s a clear YC. One of those cases where Peyper called advantage and played on, a try was scored anyway and he forgot about it.

            • July 31st 2017 @ 10:37am
              scrum said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

              Geoff you are incorrect. It is a matter of fact that BB infringed when the team was under pressure. If you listened to the Referee explanation at the time all is clear. And I understand this is a tactic that has been employed before- while it is made to look accidental there is in fact “intent”. Surprised as some pundits may be Referees do their homework as they should- and before the ref bashers fire up & call it prejudging do they want Referees to enter matches not prepared.

              • Columnist

                July 31st 2017 @ 11:01am
                Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

                That’s a fair call scrum, it comes down to whether you believe it was accidental or not. And I understand that players sometimes try to make it look accidental.

                I saw it that Barrett was rolling out and the ball got lodged in between his legs. For mine he was very unlucky.

                Peyper obviously saw different, as do you. No problem.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 12:52pm
                superba said | July 31st 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

                BB never rolled away but he could easily have .
                He sat up and reversed taking the ball with him .
                I recall him getting a yellow quite recently for a red zone foul in which he was interfering with the ball .
                BB is no innocenti .
                He knew what he was doing but got called by Peyper .

          • July 31st 2017 @ 2:13pm
            Dan said | July 31st 2017 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

            Hi Russell,

            Prior to that incident, I thought the Canes were doing okay in terms of defending in the red zone. In fact, while I agree that BB was simply trying his best to roll away, that was probably the first foul play by the Canes in the red which to me deserved a warning at least.

            Earlier in the first half, there was a dangerous shoulder charge at the ruck by a Lions player which was replayed once by the broadcasters. Coles was asking Peyper to have another look and he should have. Selective replays if you ask me.

            Then there was a neck roll by a Lions player at the ruck which resulted in a Canes penalty. I thought that should have also been reviewed by the TMO. Do you get carded for neck rolls? At least a warning by Peyper but nope, nothing at all.

            BB’s card changed the games momentum.

            Anyway, selective replays for me seems to be the main issue when crucial games are held in the Republic.

            I am not going to take away that 2nd half performance by the Lions. That was super!!!

    • July 31st 2017 @ 6:53am
      Al-Shazahd said | July 31st 2017 @ 6:53am | ! Report

      Will be very sad if Ellis Park is less than three quarters full for the final but this competition and its “brand” truly is a mess.

    • Roar Guru

      July 31st 2017 @ 7:01am
      Kashmir Pete said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

      Hi Geoff

      ‘a fascinating and compelling final awaits next weekend’

      Many thanks for an equally compelling morning read.

      Especially as my bedtime precluded me watching Jo’burg game!


      • Columnist

        July 31st 2017 @ 7:28am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:28am | ! Report

        Cheers KP. Hope you get to watch the final. Dry track, two excellent sides, should be great.

        • Roar Guru

          July 31st 2017 @ 7:43am
          Kashmir Pete said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:43am | ! Report


          Is Faf on sideline as part of injury come back, or just no longer Lions’ run on half?

          Also, any idea if WW is expected back for the final?


          • Roar Guru

            July 31st 2017 @ 7:47am
            biltongbek said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

            Ko I think Ackermann has lost faith in De Klerk, Cronje has been the regular starter this season

            • Roar Guru

              July 31st 2017 @ 8:30am
              Kashmir Pete said | July 31st 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

              Thanks BB

              Faf’s not lost his enthusiasm, looking at his contributions from the sideline.

              Says a lot about the coach’s ability to generate good team spirit.


          • July 31st 2017 @ 10:35am
            Suzy Poison said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

            Warren Whiteley won’t be back for the final. The Boks are hoping to have him fit for the first Argentina game.

            • July 31st 2017 @ 10:37am
              Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

              Suzy, do you have any word on whether Vermeulen will be in the 15 or the 23? I assume Warren will start at 8, even though I think Vermeulen is the better player, because he is invaluable as a captain and a leader, but will Vermeulen be moved across to 6, or on the bench?

              Also farcical that Bismarck du Plessis isn’t in the 23, but that is a different issue.

              • Columnist

                July 31st 2017 @ 11:02am
                Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

                BDP is still serving a suspension for that high shot on Carter at Eden Park….

              • July 31st 2017 @ 11:05am
                Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

                I thought it was “no arms” too, Geoff? 😛

            • Roar Guru

              July 31st 2017 @ 9:23pm
              Kashmir Pete said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:23pm | ! Report

              Hi Suzy

              Many thanks for info, appreciated.


        • July 31st 2017 @ 9:45am
          Bakkies said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          De Klerk was benched around the time that the Sale rumours started. Before that contract announcement he wasn’t considered for the Boks.

          The Lions have also tightened their game up this season and de Klerk was erratic

          • July 31st 2017 @ 6:09pm
            DavSA said | July 31st 2017 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

            Spot on Bakkies. It was in the very next game after his announcement that he got benched and never really made it back.

          • Roar Guru

            July 31st 2017 @ 9:28pm
            Kashmir Pete said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:28pm | ! Report

            Thanks BK and Dav for insights.

            Only just googed his move to Sale. Had missed that news.


    • July 31st 2017 @ 7:02am
      Rikccardo said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:02am | ! Report

      Morning Allanthus.

      Running rugby in Jo’Burg awaits.

      And the Canes only have themselves to blame. Set-piece has found them out on occasion this year and that and impatience (maybe complaceny?) has undone them in Africa. They gave away way too much possession in the second half when some solid defense and patient recycling could have borne dividends.

      But you have to again question the officiating. Jackson was pretty quiet in Christchurch apart from that try, which I thought was good at real speed. Peyper on the other hand seemed out of sorts with his assistants, a number of questionable decisions including Barret’s yellow card which had a bearing on the outcome. But the Canes had the winning of it and blew it, showing a lack of leadership in the process.

      And credit to Ackermann and his boys. I thought they lacked some direction without Whitely to be honest but that was some comeback. They are going to be hard to beat at home but if anything can do it, it will be the Crusaders defense, depending on how they recover.

      While there will be no choccies for the Chiefs we should wish Cruden, Lowe and TKB well as they take the other fork in their journey. all losses to the game here. But Rennie is a significant loss to rugby in this country. A thinker of the game like him would be a welcome addition to the All Blacks coaching group, although I have heard he and Hansen aren’t all that enamoured with each other.

      • Columnist

        July 31st 2017 @ 7:30am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:30am | ! Report

        Yes Riccardo, there’s much to be said for playing rugby in the daytime in dry conditions isn’t there?

    • Roar Guru

      July 31st 2017 @ 7:16am
      Harry Jones said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      The Wrap is indispensable. Nobody in the Roar-i-verse can form a final opinion pre-Wrap.

      BBBBB was being tricky with his slow diagonal lazy-leg roll to the right instead of just tumbling fast to the left, where he wouldn’t have slowed the ball. Maybe just a penalty, but he was not being a rugby angel.

      • Columnist

        July 31st 2017 @ 7:23am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:23am | ! Report

        He looked angelic to me Harry.

        Whereas Riccitelli was the devil. His cynical intervention was definitely card worthy.

        • Roar Guru

          July 31st 2017 @ 7:46am
          Harry Jones said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

          Riccitelli does look the villain; whilst the Barrett Bros. do look like choirboys. I was hoping for a Cane win, because my provincial biases are strong. I note that Danish Cola said the Canes will be going for the Lions, suggesting a similar North Island bias. It’s also why it’s silly to suggest a particular ref favours a side from his own country. I guarantee you I would rather ANY team except the Bulls win.

          • July 31st 2017 @ 9:04am
            Jacko said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

            Harry every human…including refs are biased….By being of a certain provence means you favour that provence over other provences…then its your country over other countries…then its your world area..

            .SURELY a NEUTRAL REF wasnt that hard to get and it would have removed all perception of Bias.

            • July 31st 2017 @ 9:13am
              Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

              You do understand that the final in Wellington last year was refereed by Glen Jackson (from memory), with an Aussie AR, a Kiwi AR and a Kiwi TMO? I didn’t hear this level of complaints about referees from either the South Africans or Kiwis last year.

              I’m not saying either is right, obviously we should have neutral referees and it is a joke that SANZAAR haven’t sorted it out. That being said, you need to drop these allegations of there being a concerted efforts by the referees to ensure New Zealand lose, it is, honestly, utterly ridiculous given that the Kiwis tend to get more decisions in favour than anyone. Your allegation that the referees gave the Lions 19 points (and, by implication, the match) have been incredibly disrespectful and need to stop.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 10:24am
                stainlesssteve said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

                nah, Fionn, Kiwi players are not favoured, sometimes the opposite is true.
                neutral refs is a good idea
                There are good refs from all three countries, but the laws are difficult to understand without legal training, let alone administer at speed
                it’s a real problem, which frequently spoils games, so let’s talk about it

              • July 31st 2017 @ 10:28am
                Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

                ‘nah, Fionn, Kiwi players are not favoured, sometimes the opposite is true.’

                Why don’t you check out Franks’ attempted eye gouge on Douglas last year (whether or not it was intentional, his hands went right towards Douglas’ eyes) – no sanctions;

                why don’t you check out Speight’s no-try decision in Bledisloe 3 despite the fact Savea was arguably not even impeded, and even if he had been there was no chance of him catching Speight – ridiculous no-try decision;

                Why don’t you check out Poite refusing to even speak with Moore in the Bledisloe, while chumming up with Read;

                Why don’t you check Poite yellow carding Bismarck du Plessis for tackling Dan Carter too hard in 2013 Eden Park match – despite the fact that the tackle was 100% legal and Nonu started off a bunch of shoving Bismarck received a YC and the All Blacks no sanction.

                I could go on and on if you want.

                I happen to think that all the decisions made in the Lions Test were correct, even though the Barrett YC was contentious and harsh, I think it was okay. That being said, the appearance of bias is an issue in and of itself, and neutral referees should all be used given we have 5 countries to choose from.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 11:06am
                rebel said | July 31st 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

                Your cherry picking is as poor as Jacko’s.
                There is no bias either way despite those picking isolated instances to try and prove their point. Funny how there is never any balance with these lists.
                Swings and roundabouts.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 10:41am
                Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

                Note, I’m not alleging there is a conspiracy to benefit New Zealand, but as the best team(s), and with voracious home crowd support, the refs tend to err on the side of benefiting New Zealand – I assume because they are the best the referees tend to assume that the Kiwis must be the ones in the right on the unclear cases.

                The fact that SBW was the first red card in 50 years for the All Blacks tells you something.

                It evens out, but the Kiwis are just starting to find some of the borderline calls going against them. It happens.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 10:45am
                RedandBlack said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

                Fionn – I could go on and on if you want.

                I thought you just did. Hah ha!

              • July 31st 2017 @ 10:51am
                stainlesssteve said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

                Ah, Fionn, probably we’re both one-eyed. I am old enough to remember the bad old days of tests in South Africa, in which the refs would be in serious danger of losing their house, on the production of the wrong result…things have changed a bit there, but not entirely.

                Certainly, many of us feel we are targeted more than favoured, for whatever reason. My mother thinks so, and she should know

              • July 31st 2017 @ 11:12am
                Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 11:12am | ! Report

                Rebel,why don’t you read what I said, rebel, before you start making allegations:

                ‘Note, I’m not alleging there is a conspiracy to benefit New Zealand … It evens out, but the Kiwis are just starting to find some of the borderline calls going against them. It happens.’

                Pretty much exactly what you said about swings and roundabouts, mate.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 1:16pm
                rebel said | July 31st 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

                Fionn, where is the allegation. However I did read this fine:
                “it is, honestly, utterly ridiculous given that the Kiwis tend to get more decisions in favour than anyone.”
                and this
                ” I assume because they are the best the referees tend to assume that the Kiwis must be the ones in the right on the unclear cases”
                You then go on to produce a one sided list. That’s not how swings and roudabouts work.
                You can’t produce something that you just slammed someone else for doing.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 1:25pm
                Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

                Rebel, the allegations presented were that referees were biased against the All Blacks, I demonstrated that isn’t the case through posting of evidence that the Kiwis get multiple outrageous decisions in their favour (that’s how evidence works) and that there are plenty of examples of this.

                ‘You can’t produce something that you just slammed someone else for doing.’

                I didn’t slam Jacko for saying that certain decisions may have gone against the All Blacks, I slammed the idea that referees were biased against the All Blacks. Maybe I was wrong in saying that the Kiwis get more decisions in their favour, but they say “the best players make their own luck”, and this is generally the case in all sports. I’d be interested to see the equivalent of the Bismarck du Plessis or Henry Speight decision going against the All Blacks, or a match in which the referee refuses to talk with the All Blacks, but will with the other team, going against the All Blacks.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 4:51pm
                rebel said | July 31st 2017 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

                You only have to go back to the last 5 minutes the ABs played for an example of a massive call not going their way. We can all do lists but at soon as it is just examples of one side only it can be dismissed.
                I’m not accusing you of making outrageous claims, just that you seem to contradict yourself when you say the ABs get away with more (debatable) but it’s swings and roudabouts. I don’t agree with Jacko just as I don’t believe the ABs get away with more. I believe the refs try their best in an unenviable situation.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 2:21pm
                Ed said | July 31st 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

                It happens to all sides.
                We have been beneficiaries of dubious decisions in our last two world cup finals. Kepu should have received a yellow card for one of his two high shots on Carter i 2015, and Andre Watson kept us in the 2003 final where he penalised the far stronger scrum.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 2:28pm
                Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

                Ed, that is fair, and I agree.

                As you and Rebel seem to be saying ‘swings and roundabouts’, you win some, you lose some (RWC 2015 QF vs Scotland is an example enough of that 😛 ).

              • July 31st 2017 @ 2:40pm
                Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

                And Rebel, in hindsight you’re correct, I should not have said:

                ‘The Kiwis tend to get more decisions in favour than anyone.’

                Instead, I should have said:

                ‘The Kiwis get as many decisions in their favour as anyone else does’.

                That, I believe is more accurate. Sorry, you were right.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 4:58pm
                rebel said | July 31st 2017 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

                All good mate. I have always hated people claiming the ABs get away with more, which is also why I am not a fan of Jacko’s conspiracy theory.
                I have an article on the backburner addressing/mocking the perceived conspiracies. Just need someone with a bit of writing polish to clean it up. Would love to get Harry on board as I believe he has the poetic knack it deserves.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 5:03pm
                Fionn said | July 31st 2017 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

                You’re right about my phrasing myself poorly, definitely more accurate to say that at least as many calls go in the All Blacks’ favour as against them – I agree, there’s no bias either towards or against them.

                As to the last call against the All Blacks, utterly baffling it was, utterly, utterly baffling. Once Poite had gone to the TMO and they had confirmed penalty he shouldn’t have been able to change his mind. That being said, I think Read could have a penalty awarded against him. It is what it is, as understandably frustrating as it would have been to be an All Black fan, as I would have expected a penalty in their situation, and then after he confirmed it with the TMO…

              • July 31st 2017 @ 5:19pm
                rebel said | July 31st 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

                yeah happy with the result of the last call leading to a fair draw, just unhappy with the process they used to get there.
                Would love to hear the audio between Garces and Poite.
                At the end of the day rugby is an entertainment industry and that was an entertaining series.

              • Roar Guru

                August 1st 2017 @ 6:42am
                taylorman said | August 1st 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

                Yes but what you also managed to do in that string of conversations is to merely confirm that viewers are more biased than the very refs they comment on, I mean you didnt even realise you were doing it.

                Ive no time for people that comment on the unfairness towards their own sides and omit to balance the leger just as often when their side is favoured.

                I do it sometimes and its usually out of passion for my side but i also know its biased. Some dont

              • August 1st 2017 @ 7:58am
                Fionn said | August 1st 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

                Taylorman, I’ve never failed to admit the calls that go my teams’ way, it just wasn’t the point of the conversation.

                – Joubert calling the penalty vs Scotland in the 2015 RWC
                – Scoring a try in the RC vs Argentina last year after Haylett-Petty clearly knocked it on
                – Coles not getting a penalty try in Bledisloe 3 when Foley holding him back off the ball when chasing it.

                You seem to have misunderstood the pint of the conversation, which was that the refs weren’t biased against the Kiwis, not that I was claiming they’re biased against the Aussie teams (we get as many calls in our favour as anyone else).

            • July 31st 2017 @ 9:19am
              RedandBlack said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

              Zactly – its an unfair situation to put them in – but in this case – or most cases with SA refs and SA teams its just that you don’t get the balanced calls – its the ones they don’t call as much as the ones they do. I get Peypers call on Barrett and its a bit technical but ok I can live with that. But there was the clear shoulder charge into the maul right at the start and then the neck roll in the 2nd – both far less technical def yellow cards – no call from Peyper the touchies or the camera. We don’t feel we get an even break – in fact I am thinking of resurrecting Lawrence and sending him over as retaliation.

              • Roar Guru

                July 31st 2017 @ 10:10am
                Harry Jones said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

                The two lost lineouts deep in Lion territory definitely cost the Canes the game more than any call. Canes had that game in the bag. Needed to go up 35-3.

              • Columnist

                July 31st 2017 @ 10:25am
                Geoff Parkes said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

                Dead right Harry. Didn’t apply any pressure from attacking lineouts ‘cos they didn’t win their own throws. Coles dropped a good pass with the line open. And another time they went wide with basketball passes when they were picking and driving to the posts and had the defence shot in close.

                The Canes left plenty of points out there and only have themselves to blame.

              • July 31st 2017 @ 10:43am
                RedandBlack said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

                Yeah – I’ll go with that – not a fan of not contesting on the opposition throw either. You can’t give away an entire set piece for basically the whole game … on yr on line maybe but the “canes weren’t even jumping outside their own 22.

            • July 31st 2017 @ 12:57pm
              superba said | July 31st 2017 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

              Like that Aussie ref who said ” let’s get the Japies”.
              It would have to be a NH ref to be neutral.
              Aussie refs prefer their cousins across the ditch to South Africans .

              • Roar Rookie

                July 31st 2017 @ 7:32pm
                Takeshi Kovacs said | July 31st 2017 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

                Which Aussie Ref said that? When? Or are you just doing a little astro-turfing in case Gardner get’s Ref gig next week?

              • July 31st 2017 @ 9:27pm
                superba said | July 31st 2017 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

                Stuart Dickinson .
                I don’t get the astro turfing bit .

            • July 31st 2017 @ 4:37pm
              Tuli Bull said | July 31st 2017 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

              Hi Jacko I have been reading your comments on the ref since yesterday. The point that you are making is that the ref has clearly helped the Lions win and that your point of view is not biased but factual. So if I am correct that your oppinion is that not one call went in the Huricanes favour. I cant find any comment from you suggesting he made mistakes against the Lions. That suggest to me that you are judging him from a Nz perspective and not an over all performance and that is biased.

            • July 31st 2017 @ 5:16pm
              superba said | July 31st 2017 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

              Jacko memory may fail me .
              But I don’t recall the same amount of bleating for neutral refs when Glen Jackson ( NZ ) reffed the Hurricanes vs Lions in NZ last year .

            • July 31st 2017 @ 5:42pm
              Pickett said | July 31st 2017 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

              Hey Jacko,

              Do you remeber the 2002 NRL GF between my Roosters and your Worriers?
              90% of Sydneysiders/Australians were going for the Worriers because they all hated my silvertail Chooks.

              Provincialism runs very, very deep in Australia my friend.

          • July 31st 2017 @ 4:24pm
            wyn said | July 31st 2017 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

            BB no choir boy. He is very skillful and an absolute pleasure to watch when he plies his trade. Where is he looking as he accidentally drags the ball out the ruck. The biggest problem here is that Peyper is a South African and perceived to be biased. Non neutral refs are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Early in the 1st half the Lions players were shouting at him to police the offside and he promptly shut them up. Neutral refs for all finals please!

        • July 31st 2017 @ 10:55am
          Hannes said | July 31st 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

          I counted 4 incidents where yellow cards could have been ditched out when the Lions made a line break in the Canes’ red zone. Diving on the ball from offside, tackling players from offside, hands in the ruck and them BB found a ball between his legs in surprise. in 75% of these incidents the Canes got away with it and prevented the possibility for a try to be scored.

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