I write this as I make my way home from Lang Park after watching the two best franchises in Australian domestic rugby duke it out on the way to a 19-19 draw before 38,500 fans.
Here are the 5 keys points I think followers of the great game learned from tonight’s fixture:
1. Jake White is a bullshit artist: The coach of the Brumbies made the claim earlier in the week that the Reds were the “dirtiest” team in Super 15. Hyperbole or not, tonight’s display from the Brumbies, including two yellow cards, certainly rests that crown from the Reds, if indeed they actually ever held it! On this point: did the referee in the second half forget the laws regarding the penalty try? Surely one must have been in the offing after the second yellow card?
2. The Reds came to win but their positivity cost them: I love attacking rugby and I love teams prepared to go for the try instead of taking the 3 points on offer. I salute the Reds for pushing for the attacking option for the totality of this game but think they over did it at least twice maybe four times. I suspect the lesson the coach will be preaching next week might be “attack with a line out but if you get another penalty take the 3”.
3. TMO … Hero or villain? I have not seen a replay yet so can not argue about whether the TMO was right or wrong in his decisions but has there been a game in recent memory where the TMO has had a more important roll? 4 disallowed tries to the Reds certainly had a game changing feel about them and 2 at least looked marginal. I certainly hope he got them all right.
4. The Brumbies will win the competition because: they won the game with defence and made a negligible number of errors like a winning team does. Forget the professional fouls for the current discussion and focus on the defence: a Herculean effort!
5. Smith v Gill: I am calling this one am honourable draw. Both had moments of excellence and frankly both also had moments that they would wish they could have again. The race for Pocock’s replacement is no clearer after tonight.
It was a stunning exhibition of rugby and I head home now to rest my sore throat. I may have been shouting a bit at the end.
Bring on next week!