With the Waratahs leading 29-nil over the Crusaders by playing brilliant rugby in Christchurch yesterday, Kiwi referee Ben O’Keeffe struck for the first time.
With just five minutes left in the first half, Crusader Joe Moody elbowed Waratah centre Kurtley Beale in the throat without the ball that took Beale out of the play.
Moody accepted the return pass to score under the post, and it was converted.
Moody’s illegal and dangerous play was so blatant right in from of O’Keeffe, it had to be a red card.
No, O’Keeffe awarded the try, but Moody will be hauled into the judiciary and is certain to cop a lengthy holiday.
O’Keeffe struck again binning Waratah halfback Nick Phipps, as the Crusaders scored two more tries to trail 19-29 at the break.
But O’Keeffe wasn’t done, not by a long shot.
A spate of penalties went the Crusaders way in the second half, Waratahs winger Tagele Naiyaravoro was binned and O’Keeffe awarded a penalty try to the home side.
In was one-way refereeing traffic, all O’Keeffe did for most of the half was look at the Waratahs.
To be fair, he also awarded the Waratahs two very kickable penalties but Bernard Foley’s trusty boot was back in the shed – both attempts were very ordinary.
Either one would have given the Waratahs a meritorious win against all odds.
But then the Moody try also cost the Waratahs victory – the men in blue were dudded.
Now I have got rid of the refereeing rubbish, the Waratahs can feel very proud of the way they rattled up 29 points at a point a minute against the best side in the tournament, with Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Curtis Rona and Naiyaravoro at their exciting best.
The tries sent a shiver down the spine, proving the Waratahs can play great rugby once they set their mind to it.
It’ll come as no surprise Folau and Beale were the catalysts.
Those who didn’t see the game could be forgiven for asking how on earth could the Waratahs lead 29-nil, and lose?
As Roarers know only too well, I have been relentless on the Waratahs’ dreadful play this season.
But last night wasn’t the Waratahs’ fault.
They were so heavily pinged out of the game by O’Keeffe, the Crusaders are such a top side and the combination was too hard to overcome.
The Crusaders won 31-29, but they know they didn’t deserve the chocolates.
And Ben O’Keeffe doesn’t deserve another game of rugby.