Five lessons from the third round of the Rugby Championship, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
The standard of refereeing is simply not good enough
Both referees had shockers on Saturday. In Napier, Frenchmen Pascal Gauzère failed to spot Horacio Agulla's early tackle on Julian Savea when the winger was looking to regather a chip kick from Beauden Barrett. If Savea had not been interfered with the All Blacks would almost certainly have scored, so a penalty and a yellow card was warranted. Then, with 20 minutes to go, Leonardo Senatore charged down a Ma'a Nonu kick and raced away to score, but the referee bizarrely ruled that the No 8 had knocked on. A converted try would have reduced the deficit to five and changed the complexion of the game. Irishman George Clancy was just as bad in Perth. In the first half, he penalised Duane Vermeulen for a legal hit on James Slipper that cost the Boks three points. Then, with the Boks leading 23-14 after 65 minutes, Clancy yellow-carded Bryan Habana for a high tackle on Adam Ashley-Cooper even though replays, which the referee watched on the big screen, showed that he had made contact around the chest/shoulder area and slipped up. It was exactly the same as when Rob Simmons had tackled Jean de Villiers just minutes earlier, yet no yellow card was shown on that occasion. The Wallabies scored 10 points while Habana was off the field, so Clancy's clanger was a match-changing one. It would not be a surprise if both referees issued apologies in the week ahead, but saying sorry does not change the score. They should be removed from the IRB referees panel and only be welcomed back when they have proved themselves again in lower levels of the game.
Pressure-relieving penalties must find touch
When Bismarck du Plessis won a breakdown penalty on his tryline with three minutes to go, it looked as though the Boks would leave Perth with a 23-17 win. All Morné Steyn had to do was find touch somewhere between the 22m and 10m lines and the Boks could maul their way into Wallabies territory from the lineout and wind down the clock. But instead of ensuring the ball went out, Steyn went for too much distance and gave the Wallabies another attacking opportunity against 14 men that resulted in the match-winning try. Making the mistake even more unforgivable is the fact that Habana would have returned to the field before the lineout if Steyn had found touch, making it 15 against 15.
A late substitution can make a difference
Many would have expected Kurtley Beale to come off the bench when the Wallabies fell behind 23-14 in the 63rd minute, but coach Ewen McKenzie waited until the 73rd to give the game-breaker a go. It would prove to be more than enough time for Beale to make an impact, as he played an important part in the backline move that led to Rob Horne's try, giving the inside pass to Israel Folau.
The Bok scrum is better but not yet good enough
After being embarrassed by the Pumas in Salta, all eyes were on the Bok pack in Perth. The first couple of scrums did not go well, but the Boks turned things around early in the second half when two dominant scrums resulted in two penalties. It was an encouraging passage of play, but as Nick Mallett pointed out in the SuperSport studio, not one of the Wallabies tight five would be selected for the Springboks. The real test for the Bok big men will come against the All Blacks in Wellington.
Beauden Barrett can contribute from the start
Barrett wore the All Blacks No 10 jersey for the first time in his 22-Test career, against Argentina in Napier, and showed that he can be more than just an impact player for the All Blacks. While his goal-kicking was poor, his decision-making was excellent and he had a hand in three of his side's four tries. If the injury-prone Dan Carter does not make it to next year's World Cup, Steve Hansen at least knows that in Aaron Cruden and Barrett he has two quality flyhalves who can do the job.
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