Sunday, July 05, 2009

LIONS-28 Springboks-9

3rd test


You know, it’s really hard to play rugby when you have a bee in your scrum cap.

Justice my arse!!! How could they even consider going on their little crusade when the IRB virtually legitimized their eye-gouging???

I mean, I was more than happy to put all that behind me until I saw their pathetic little armband protest, and while before the game I would have had at least a measure of respect for the home side had they completed the whitewash, by kickoff I was praying the tourists could come out on top.

And weren’t they just three of the best tries you’ll ever see in a Test match?

One player I was looking for from a performance standpoint on the day was Jamie Heaslip, since he had been relatively quiet in the first two games, possibly overshadowed by his gargantuan opposite number Pierre Spies (who, by the way, also had a hand in Burger’s misdemeanour, check out the evidence…).

The Leinster Number 8 certainly didn’t let me down, and while predictably the Sky Sports commentators were wetting themselves over the fact that Shane Williams scored the first try, they conveniently ignored the fact that it was Heaslip who made the break and slipped an unbelievable offload into the Welshman’s arms.

And apart from conceding the odd unnecessary penalty, the Newbridge lad was impressive all over the park, no more so than when he went down in a tackle in the second half then got into what can only be described as a “crab position” and scooted along for another ten meters!!!

But if his offload for the first try was “unbelievable”, then the English language doesn’t have a word for Riki Flutey’s shortly afterwards. He was always something of a misfit on this tour, wasn’t he? Everyone’s favourite for the 12 jumper before the squad headed south, a combination of injury and Roberts’ sparkling form sent him tumbling down the pecking order.

Though I was annoyed D’Arcy didn’t make the 22, in some ways it was fitting for Flutey to at least have some part in the series’ highlight reel and his lightning quick hands certainly earned him that. Again S Williams got the touchdown, but again it was a gift.

And last, but certainly not least, we have the “Monye-mental” third try which sealed the deal. Messrs Harrison & Barnes called it “vindication”. I call it opportunism. If this guy is going to score a memorable try for you, this is about the only way he’ll do it. Snag an interception and fire up the rockets. “There’ll be no catching him”, I said as soon I realised there was no infringement. I’m sorry, but I still don’t rate the guy any higher than Premiership standard.

Which leads me to the burning question – who was my player of the series? Well, my heart of course has to go with Rob Kearney, who at least emulated if not surpassed his achievements from Pretoria yesterday. But since he wasn’t picked to start in the first Test, if I was forced to go with someone who began all three, I would have to go with Mike Phillips.

He’s not the world’s most technically gifted scrum-half by any means, but in a Test series like this one where the opponents were going to be physical, he was certainly the right man for the job, as you can see from the above pic. I know I’ll be accused of donning my Leinster cap when I say this, but I honestly don’t think an O’Leary/O’Gara half-back line would have done any better than the two Welshmen did over the three matches.

Plus the Ospreys No 9 was able to spurn the amorous advances of Bakkies Botha who seemingly was hypnotized by his “sexy blue eyes”. That surely must have been tough for him to ignore, so I’ll give him the nod, if for no other reason than to avoid being considered a “one-eyed Irishman”!!!

So that’s it, the series and the tour is over for another four years. FINALLY we can bring the curtain down on the Northern Hemisphere’s season, and thank God it ended on a high note so we won’t be subjected to Sky’s doom and gloom which was trying to make us over on this side of the Irish Sea forget all the amazing things that happened this year.

We also mustn't forget that although South Africa won the series when it came to actual match victories, we can at least claim SOME bragging rights in that we scored more points, more tries, AND had fewer players banned, so THERE!!!

And with the Geech announcing this tour as his swansong, I'd say few could argue if I put the name Declan Kidney forward as presumptive coach of the 2013 tour Down Under...

Though as we all know, from a world standpoint, the rugby season NEVER actually ends, and in just two weeks the Tri-Nations kicks off in Auckland with the first Bledisloe Cup encounter. In previous years I have cheered for the Saffers in this tournament…I think it’s high time I switched allegiance to the Wallabies. That’s what I call justice ;-)


Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019