Does the Tahs’ opening 30 against the Crusaders offer them any hope?

Matt Porter Roar Guru

By Matt Porter, Matt Porter is a Roar Guru

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    It’s hard to know what to make of the Waratahs’ near miss against the all-conquering Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday night.

    No doubt coach Darryl Gibson will hold that opening 30 minutes up to his players as the blueprint to beat any team in the competition. In a game of three thirds, the Tahs played sublimely to their strengths to pile on four tries and 29 points in the first half hour.

    Much of it involved attacking talisman Israel Folau’s peerless aerial ability that led directly to two of those tries, one of which he scored himself.

    Israel Folau looks on

    (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    The Tahs’ pack were also well up for the challenge in the opening stanza, all bustly and niggly industry to dominate their strangely subdued All Black-laden opposites, who the visitors robbed of possession 11 times in the first 40.

    Replacement hooker Hugh Roach, called into action early following an injury to Damien Fitzpatrick and lock Ned Hanigan, epitomised their team’s efforts up front.

    Roach was a whirling dervish, displaying the requisite aggression demanded of a man sporting a haircut of such attitude.

    Hanigan was typically busy cleaning out rucks, getting up time and again for tackles and generally wringing good worth out of an anatomy that’s shorter and lighter than most locks at this level.

    Used on the blindside by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, Hanigan brings to mind former New Zealand Test cricketer Bob Cunis, of whom a TV commentator once said, “with a name like that you would expect Cunis to be neither one thing or another”.

    The Tahs’ cause was helped by a virulent case of the dropsies that had afflicted the Crusaders’ backs who coughed up eight handling errors to the visitor’s one in the first half.

    To be fair many were forced by the keen Tahs’ line speed that undid a number of promising Crusader plays.

    Unfortunately for Gibson’s men, they were unable to build on either their brilliant start or their score for the remaining 55 minutes of the match, that included five minutes of first half injury time, while their opposites staged the biggest comeback in Super Rugby history.

    The last ten minutes of the first half were about as violent a momentum swing as you are ever likely to see with the Cantabrians scoring three tries, two of which were converted, to trail by just ten at the break.

    Their spree was sparked by a five-pointer to big prop Joe Moody, seconds after he had blatantly taken Kurtley Beale out of play with an elbow to the throat.

    The nasty bit of foul play should have resulted in a red card to Moody on his first game back from a lengthy injury lay off. However, it was completely missed by Kiwi ref Ben O’Keeffe and his all-New Zealand team of match officials.

    To rub salt into what was soon to be a gaping wound, the Tahs lost Nick Phipps to a yellow card for what was, by comparison, an udderly (sorry) innocuous ruck infringement a few minutes later.

    Phipps was followed in the naughty chair by giant winger Taqele Naiyaravoro 12 minutes into the second half for slapping the ball from a likely looking Crusaders attack to leave the New South Welshmen battling 20 minutes of the prolonged resurgence with just 14 men.

    They were mind-fart acts of ill-discipline that cost the visitors dearly, for sure.

    The problem was that O’Keeffe and his sideline crew were simply not as vigilant in pulling the Crusaders up for their indiscretions and the inconsistency sent Rod Kafer, Stephen Hoiles and co in the Fox Sports studio apopylectic in post-match.

    Fair enough.

    Apart from the Moody miss, O’Keeffe also seemed to wrongly ping the Tahs for a knock on at the ruck that looked like it was caused by Crusaders openside Matt Todd with four minutes to go.

    With seconds remaining NSW No.8 Michael Wells appeared to be the victim of a tip tackle that would have given Bernard Foley a long range shot to win the game, had it not been completely dismissed/missed.

    The best refs are the ones you barely notice but unfortunately O’Keeffe had anything other than an inconspicuous night.

    Good match officials are just like good players, in that they suffer the odd bad game. As the son of former top provincial ref Peter, Ben has refereeing in his blood and is widely viewed as a good up and comer. He’ll no doubt learn from the experience, but too late for the Tahs, their fans and pay TV commentators.

    It’s doubtful there was any agenda to his decision-making. Still, it’s just not a good look when the home side appears to have home refs turn a blind eye to their infringing.

    While doing nothing to stop bad decisions being made, neutral refs for inter-country Super matches would at least stop accusations of bias.

    In the final analysis, once poked from their slumber, the Crusaders big bears up front were just too much for the visiting pack who they eventually scrummed, mauled and driven into the AMI dirt.

    It seemed apt that the Crusaders first edged their noses in front in the 69th minute via a penalty try for repeated Waratah scrum infringements.

    Curtis Rona

    (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

    The turnaround coincided with visiting ten Richie Mo’unga finally realising it wasn’t such a good idea to kick anywhere near Folau in general play.

    While they’ll be bitterly disappointed by their inability to convert such a rampant start into a win, the Tahs will feel consoled by the fact they were able to dominate the defending champs for the best part of a half. Building such a mammoth lead that it took the vaunted opposition a record-breaking effort and most of the remaining match to finally reel in.

    It will give Gibson and his skipper Michael Hooper a glimmer of hope that if their team manage to finish top of the Aussie conference they might just be able to find a way against the top kiwi and South African teams that they will inevitably have to play away if they make it to the real pointy end of the comp.

    Hooper said as much post-match:
    “We can stack points on quickly and play a really exciting brand of rugby and put a top team under pressure.

    “We know what we’re capable of and it’s disappointing we let that one slip.”

    But that’s now the 39th match in a row Aussie teams have slipped up against kiwi opponents.

    With the Reds’ historic loss to the Sunwolves in Tokyo leaving the only Australian joy at the weekend coming from the Rebels overcoming the Brumbies in a scrappy derby in Canberra, glimmers of hope are all rugby fans in this country can realistically cling to at the moment.

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    The Crowd Says (124)

    • May 14th 2018 @ 2:43am
      Malo said | May 14th 2018 @ 2:43am | ! Report

      The Tahs are miles better than the rest of the Oz conferences . That is why they get the gold jerseys. Reds players did their selections no favours and what do they do at the brumbies.

      • May 14th 2018 @ 8:16am
        bluffboy said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:16am | ! Report

        Malo, 1 point is all that is keeping them in front at moment. Hardly miles.
        With the Highlanders and Chiefs over the next couple of weeks we will all see where NSW is in the scheme of things.

    • May 14th 2018 @ 2:47am
      Johnny Boy said | May 14th 2018 @ 2:47am | ! Report

      The article started off well and then it just became another whinge fest. Boring.

      • Roar Guru

        May 14th 2018 @ 5:42am
        Matt Porter said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:42am | ! Report

        I didn’t whinge about the ref, just pointed out the errors he and the other match officials made which had a reasonable bearing on he game. Am I suppose to ignore them Johnny Boy?

        • Roar Rookie

          May 14th 2018 @ 12:34pm
          Paulo said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

          One of the more balanced and rounded articles written I thought. The decisions cant be ignored, but so too the change in tactics that, for one thing, removed Folau from the game. Once he was gone, the Tahs didnt have much left to really threaten the line with. Resulting in some long range shots, that Foley ultimately couldn’t convert. Either one of which would have won the game. The forwards started with a hiss and a roar, but again, ultimately ran out of puff.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 8:24pm
          Max said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

          If ever a referee should be winged about its this guy.
          Refereeing like this is destroying our sport.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 11:25pm
          Sylvester said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:25pm | ! Report

          Yes Matt, because it’s been done to death.
          I rate your analysis so it would have been good to just hear about what the Tahs did right and wrong in this game.

      • May 14th 2018 @ 6:33am
        Cynical Play said | May 14th 2018 @ 6:33am | ! Report

        A bit like your comment JB

    • May 14th 2018 @ 5:04am
      Axel said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:04am | ! Report

      Another article blaming the officials. Maybe the real reason they were beaten was because they relied too heavily on high balls to folau or coming up quickly to try and get an intercept. It’s hard to beat teams like the crusaders or hurricanes with a 1 dimensional play book. It might work for 20 or 30 minutes but they generally adapt change the way the match is being played then turn the tables, just like what happened to the waratahs. Foley still had 2 good chances to win late in the game but he missed and the tahs lose. Stop crying

      • Roar Guru

        May 14th 2018 @ 5:47am
        Matt Porter said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:47am | ! Report

        Actually Axel I didn’t ‘blame’ the officials, just pointed out their errors. I actually say the Crusaders forwards, once they got going, were the winning of the game, along with better Crusaders option taking and Tahs ill discipline.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 8:54am
          Jacko said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

          Matt you had a massive whinge in the second half of the article and also the Tahs didnt score 30 did they…it was 29 and it was not good enough…but 30 would still have been the 39th loss anyway……now 32….which is what it would have been if Foley had kicked 1 of the 2 sitters he missed……would have made it 1 in a row to Aus SR sides

          • Roar Guru

            May 14th 2018 @ 1:24pm
            Matt Porter said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

            Jacko, you call it a “massive whinge”, I’ll call it referencing some facts of the matter. Just to put the record straight, I never did say the Tahs scored 30 points. That was in a headline, which I didn’t write, now corrected to say 30 minutes.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 1:47pm
              Coaster49 said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

              Matt, if you are referencing some facts it would pay to get them correct. There never was an elbow to the throat. There was a forearm fend that started on the upper chest and went into the
              lower neck area. Clearly illegal and worthy of a penalty and a card.
              Consider, if indeed it was an elbow to the throat, the damage that would have been done to Beale. I accept Moody’s action took Beale out of the play. The way you write it infers Beale left gasping for air on the ground. It was a forearm fend starting in the upper chest area. Doesn’t sound so dramatic but still a card offence.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 14th 2018 @ 4:01pm
                Paul D said | May 14th 2018 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

                The review panel themselves have called it a strike to the head. Stop pretending it wasn’t.

                Note, the neck it also considered head.

              • May 14th 2018 @ 5:24pm
                moaman said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

                Where did Coaster “pretend” it didn’t hit the head ( or in this case, neck)?
                No need for the emotive language…keep it civil mate 😉

              • May 15th 2018 @ 8:54pm
                lassitude said | May 15th 2018 @ 8:54pm | ! Report

                more than that – Moody’s initial connection was with the forearm to Beale’s chest but Beale connected with his forearm to Moody’s face.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 9:19am
          woodart said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

          top teams and top captains take the ref out of the equation. perhaps instead of taking a quarter of your article to lambast the officials, you might have mentioned that poor captaining by hooper. he shood have realised that the crusaders wernt going to continue to leak points, and preached defense to his troops. you are partly right, the crusaders forwards were the winning of the game, but no team should be unable to defend a 29 point headstart. once again, an aussie team only plays for part of the game.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 11:47am
            Phil said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:47am | ! Report

            If you one eyed Kiwis couldn’t see that not giving a red(or at least yellow)card to Moody would not have had a huge bearing on the game,then you must not know much about rugby.
            I said in posts last week before game how crazy it was that a Kiwi ref was appointed to this game when Peyper was in NZ doing the Blues/Canes game.It just leaves too many question marks over the refs performance,unnecessarily so.I don’t for 1 minute that O’Keefe is biased,just not a great ref,but why put doubts in people when we could have just been complaining about Peyper,but at least neutral.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 11:56am
              Jerry said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:56am | ! Report

              I don’t think anyone is denying the try or lack of a card didn’t affect the game, just that regardless of those decisions going against the Tahs, they still should have been able to defend that lead.

              Agree on the lack of neutral refs, I don’t know why SANZAAR are so obstinate on this subject.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 12:01pm
              Axel said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

              Phil i was born and raised in WA. I support neither the crusaders or the waratahs. Stop bringing up the moody incident as if that was the reason the waratahs lost. It happened in the 35th minute, they still had a 22 point lead and both teams still had 15 men. The crusaders should have been down to 14 but they weren’t. Kurtley beale played on, it was a bad call, move on.

              • May 14th 2018 @ 5:43pm
                Phil said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

                Axel,I agree with you that the Tahs should never have lost the game with that sort of lead,but it is still a huge influence on the result no matter which way you look at it.
                Everyone who watches rugby,and quite a few other sports as well,knows that momentum is a big influence on match outcomes.There was a huge momentum shift leading up to half time,which would have been quite different if a card and penalty had been awarded.

              • May 15th 2018 @ 5:02am
                Axel said | May 15th 2018 @ 5:02am | ! Report

                Copy that phil my point is good teams are able to create their own momentum or change their tactics/style of play to halt the momentum of the opposition, regardless of referee decisions

            • May 14th 2018 @ 5:25pm
              moaman said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

              I am a One-Eyed Kiwi and I didn’t even see the incident.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 8:27pm
              Max said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

              Even a penalty would have done it

        • May 14th 2018 @ 11:53am
          Axel said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

          Fair enough Matt you did mention the crusaders forwards briefly, a large part of the article is related to the decisions and non decisions of the match officials though. I just find it irritating that after a great game of rugby to watch most of the articles i read are about match officials and 1 decision in the 34th minute that supposedly turned the game.

        • May 17th 2018 @ 2:14am
          ThugbyFan said | May 17th 2018 @ 2:14am | ! Report

          Matt, honestly mate I don’t know why you reply to the one-eyed kiwi fan boys. Its similar to talking to Trump and NRA fans, nothing factual or logical can get through the thick bone structure encasing the skull. They retire every night, holding their security blankets, sniffling to Rupert the bear that they are the greatest rugby players in the Universe because God loves their little islands near Antarctica. Any hint that they won by nefarious means is a sleight on their manhood and should be slapped down immediately. For their benefit, I shall rewrite your article.

          Early in the match, the Tahs fluked 29 points through multiple offsides and dirty tricks. About the 35th minute, God’s chosen Greatest Ones rolled their sleeves up and smashed them hopeless Tahs all over the park. The Tahs sissy boys couldn’t stand up against the Men of steel with 4 of their forwards succumbing to injuries for daring to be on the same park. As ordained in every religion known to mankind, Canterbury won.

          Any hint that so many injuries and some favourable refereeing decisions to the home side are fake news. The real story is above, Hallelujah!

    • May 14th 2018 @ 5:15am
      DanFan said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:15am | ! Report

      Congratulations to the Waratahs for their nearly victory but I suspect the Crusaders were not expecting too much from them after the performance against the Blues. Highlanders beware, it may be third time lucky.

      • Roar Guru

        May 14th 2018 @ 12:23pm
        pformagg said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

        Highlanders won’t be kicking to Folau.

        • May 15th 2018 @ 7:17pm
          Faith said | May 15th 2018 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

          Tahs are incapable of resisting good solid forward work for 90 minutes. Just ask the Lions coaches. Keep them out for 30 minutes of the 1st half and 10 minutes of the 2nd and they drift off. Especially Folau and Beale. Just truck it up through the forwards. Landers will know this.

    • May 14th 2018 @ 5:46am
      John said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:46am | ! Report

      Please Aussie’s stop the moaning.
      Yes Moody deserved a red card. No it would not have ment the Tahs would have won (most likely, but not quaranteed, remember the Brumbies when the Crusaders had 14)
      Dont listen to Justin Marshall re Matt Todds hand if you look closely Todds hand was in there, but it was a Tahs hand that knocked it on.
      As for Kafer he used to be very level headed and give some good insight into the game. Since being appointed high performance manager in charge of coaches, he seems to be wanting to cover up his and the Aussie’s players poor rugby skills & nous.
      As for the referring over all. Yes they make mistakes but they are not biased. Move on and enjoy the games

      • May 14th 2018 @ 8:13am
        bazza said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        So are you saying that playing a whole half of Rugby a person down would of allowed them to easily score 3 trys i think you have rocks in your head.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 8:57am
          Jacko said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report

          No BAZZA he said no one knows the result just because a man is sent off…Also it looks like he hits VERY CLEARLY under Bealse armpit meaning a yellow was most lickly under a TMO review anyway…Just as the tackle on Dagg the week before was a yellow

          • Roar Pro

            May 15th 2018 @ 12:47pm
            Andy Thompson said | May 15th 2018 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

            When he was cited they deemed the action was a red card offence.

            • May 15th 2018 @ 1:14pm
              Jerry said | May 15th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

              Which is a fk of a lot different than saying it was a likely red if reviewed – the citing commissioner & judiciary are understandably more likely to deem an offence red card level than refs or TMOs.

            • May 15th 2018 @ 7:20pm
              Faith said | May 15th 2018 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

              Andy, even the hit on Dagg was deemed a red card offence at the review. That’s why they cite it because it would have been a red card offence but it wasn’t called at the game …

      • Roar Guru

        May 14th 2018 @ 8:31am
        rebel said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

        Matt is a kiwi rugby supporter.

        • Roar Guru

          May 14th 2018 @ 9:14am
          Matt Porter said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

          Well spotted Rebel

        • Roar Guru

          May 14th 2018 @ 12:31pm
          Machooka said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

          And what’s more rebel… he’s of one those red and black dyed in the wool variety.

          It doesn’t get much worse than that! 🙂

          • Roar Rookie

            May 14th 2018 @ 12:38pm
            Paulo said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

            “And what’s more rebel… he’s of one those red and black dyed in the wool variety.

            It doesn’t get much BETTER than that! 🙂”

            *fixed it for you

          • Roar Guru

            May 14th 2018 @ 1:29pm
            Matt Porter said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

            And what happens when I try to be all two-eyed and objective, I get labelled an Aussie whinger! I think I might have to revert to type Chook and get the red and black eye patch back on .

            • May 14th 2018 @ 8:08pm
              Drongo said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:08pm | ! Report

              Now you know what we face every day on this site. Kiwis are the most biased and jingoistic supporters in the whole, wide world.

              • Roar Guru

                May 15th 2018 @ 8:05am
                rebel said | May 15th 2018 @ 8:05am | ! Report

                You know it’s not true when Drongo says it.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 1:56pm
            Muzzo said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

            Condolences Chook, but 29 points in 29 minutes, does make one wonder. It also doesn’t make the captain look good, with him failing to rally his troops. I, myself, at the 29th minute, really thought that the Tah’s were going to bolt away with it. Not good!!
            But,…… yeh but, the Landers are awaiting Bro!!! So no peeking up the kilt, as it may be very distracting!!! lol.Cheers.

            • Roar Guru

              May 14th 2018 @ 2:35pm
              Machooka said | May 14th 2018 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

              Hi Muzzo… I was going to inquire of Paulo (above) about whether he’d be doing any ‘alien style probing’ of late after his *fixed it for you thingy, but I’ll now direct my attention to you and your mob, and just say there’ll be definitely no peeking on my behalf. Perish the thought! 🙂

              • May 14th 2018 @ 5:02pm
                Muzzo said | May 14th 2018 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

                Oh so Bro, was down the road, today at the pet shop, & I did see a parrot on a perch!! Oh the thought!! Lol.

    • May 14th 2018 @ 6:36am
      Cynical Play said | May 14th 2018 @ 6:36am | ! Report

      Good piece. Exactly the way I saw it. Great game. Pity about the reffing and the thug Moodie being rewarded.

      • May 14th 2018 @ 8:40am
        bluffboy said | May 14th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

        Or if you look at it positively to find answers to the questions that should/could be asked might be

        -Why didn’t Beale and Hooper protest at the time of Moody’s try being scored.
        -Who is a better choice for captain (for whatever reason Refs and mean most of them, Aussie included just don’t listen to Hooper) re the tip tackle. I think he was already on the ground when the legs came up, but could be wrong.
        -Why and how has the “Iceman” turned in to a slushy? He had the opportunity a couple of times to take the Ref out of the game and win.
        -Why is it that your forwards can go from Awesome and physically dominate to revolving doors in the blink of an eye for most of the game?

        These are just a few question I would be asking.

        It would seem a discussion has come alive in Long White Cloud if it’s a good thing to have handicap games. Not sure how points they should spot, it looks like more than 30 at this stage.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 9:21am
          Fin said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:21am | ! Report

          We already have handicapped games, they are just handicapped the wrong way. I think we are better to start with an even playing field and see how that goes.

          • May 14th 2018 @ 9:27am
            bluffboy said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

            What when your best side finishes about 6th or 7th on the ladder and get home finals isn’t enough.

            • May 14th 2018 @ 10:14am
              Jacko said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

              6th or 7th…Didnt the Blues finish 8th a couple of seasons back but lost their finals possie to the brumbies because of the garranteed finals spot? brumbies in 9th on points i think

            • May 14th 2018 @ 11:01am
              Fin said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

              We have predominantly kiwi refs and the kiwi sides are higher up the ladder, Saturdays game gave us some insight as to why this is happening. Let’s go to neutral refs and see what is happens, that’s all I’m saying.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 14th 2018 @ 12:46pm
                Paulo said | May 14th 2018 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

                So it’s a massive conspiracy?

                Lack of Rugby smarts. eg short line out when a jumper is on a yellow card.

                Poor discipline. eg. 2 Yellows and a penalty try last night cant be disputed, what ever else there refs missed.

                Reds record loss to the Sunwolves (unless you think Thorn is a double agent).

                Warratahs on a hiding to nothing in SA against Lions – although that was an NZ ref, so you know conspiracy.

              • Roar Guru

                May 14th 2018 @ 4:09pm
                Ralph said | May 14th 2018 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

                Clearly the ideal Fin.

                I thought earlier this year someone had suggested ‘local ref’s’ was at least partly driven by cost savings?

                If you don’t have neutral refs you inevitably leave yourself open to this kind of criticism, which can’t be good for the game.

              • May 14th 2018 @ 10:06pm
                Fin said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:06pm | ! Report

                Maybe you are right Paulo I’ll need to go back and look at that game. Maybe Kiwi refs just have concerns with the Tahs dominating their sides, or maybe it’s a bit of match fixing, Kiwis have a track record for that sort of stuff, you know with a couple of your cricketers.

              • May 14th 2018 @ 10:11pm
                Fin said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

                Ralph. I am sure costs and travel come in to it. I would like to know what our officials get paid. Match officials have more of an impact on the quality of games than most players so IMO if you want the job done properly you want the best people and that requires decent pay. I assume the guys from the weekend are on about $15 an hour and probably should be giving half of that back.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 1:41pm
          jameswm said | May 14th 2018 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

          Bluffboy this is what I keep asking?

          “-Why didn’t Beale and Hooper protest at the time of Moody’s try being scored.”

          Seriously,. I’d have been in his ear, foul play, check the TMO, player taken out, you need to check it, why was Kurtley on the ground? The refs normally will.

    , ,