Category: Archive

With Springboks on horizon, ruggers struggle

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

NATAL PROVINCE, South Africa – The reality of life in South Africa has well and truly settled over the Irish rugby camp as they prepare for next Saturday’s first test against the mighty Springboks in Bloemfontein.

A 27-20 defeat by SW Districts last Wednesday was followed by a 12-6 defeat against Western Province on Saturday, leaving Warren Gatland’s men with a mighty mountain to climb in the first test.

Western Province outkicked Ireland by 4-2 in the penalty stakes to win an undistinguished match, where the standard of refereeing was quite deplorable. In awful conditions, the players found it difficult to control their footing, yet Natal referee Jonathon Kaplan made no allowances, whistling for very trivial incidents.

The fact that the bulk of the decisions went against the Irish infuriated Gatland, who said that neutral referees should be brought in for all games involving touring sides.

“They are brought in for the Super 12s. so why not for touring sides?” he said. “I was absolutely disgusted with the referee’s performance.”

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While the standard of refereeing certainly did leave a lot to be desired (Western Province won 19 penalties to Ireland’ s nine), Gatland also knows that Ireland will have to raise their game considerably if they are to avoid a heavy defeat by the Springboks. Two penalty goals by David Humphreys was Ireland’s only reward on a day when they rarely threatened the try line.

In a dull first half, the only score was a penalty for Western Province which was cancelled out by David Humphreys in the 47th minute. Two more WP penalties followed before Humphreys cut the deficit to 9-6 with his second successful kick in the 74th minute. However, WP clinched victory with a four-penalty goal 10 minutes from time.

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