Final Score: OGDC 22 - 21 UTW

The reffing. There, I said it. Does that make anyone happy? It doesn’t make me happy. How many matches this year have we complained about reffing like it’s the reason the team wasn’t winning? Well it’s time to move on from that particular whinge because if we can blame the ref for the loss we should be blaming the team for not out competing the opposition so clearly that the ref was irrelevant. This was a DC team that had lost 9 games straight and Utah gave them their first win. Deal with that. It tastes bitter and it won’t stop doing so until we as fans stop acting like someone took away something we were entitled to. 

The Good: Teo was everywhere. I mean everywhere. Technically he was playing Fullback (15) but I’m pretty sure he filled in at Scrumhalf (9), Flyhalf (10), and Right Wing (14). The impact he had on the pitch for Utah gives me visions of a super high tempo offense with two Scrumhalves splitting the field. Chaos everywhere being perpetrated at lightning speed. It may not work, but by God it would be entertaining.

Speaking of lightning speed, the difference in recycle speed between Nial Saunders and Danny Christensen is clear. My opinion is that Saunders is thinking too much and it’s causing him to hesitate. He may have a prettier and possibly faster pass but he waits too long to do it. Danny on the other hand was in and out faster than a mormon at a coffee shop. His running recycle in the second half where he barely broke stride to scoop the ball was a blast to watch.

The team went through phase after phase on the tryline. They didn’t rush things. They just worked the phases. They didn’t score too often either but that had more to do with good defense turning the ball over. It was a step in the right direction and now they should know what to work on next.

The Bad: Oh boy, where do I start? Penalties maybe? 13 penalties conceded, killing drives all over the pitch and giving up points at inopportune times. Officially there were 7 handling errors. There were more than that. Speaking of, did someone stomp on Williams’ hands right before the game because that did not look like his usual quality of ball handling in the first half. 

The Ugly: Cards. This is what actually lost Utah the game. At 57 minutes Utah was up by 11 points. It should have been a foregone conclusion. Then Utah earned 2 yellows for not wrapping up and being offside. They spent 16 of the last 20 minutes with 14 men on the pitch. Nearly a quarter of the game down a man. 

Then, they almost had a red for a high tackle. Depending on who you ask, they should have had that red. Those people would be wrong since Tu’avao was tackling pretty low when Lasaqa lost his footing on a cut and had a “sudden and significant change of height” as World Rugby terms it. For clarity, the high tackle here would fall under law 9.13/14. The process for application would be: 

1. Was there contact? Yes. No doubt.

2. Was there foul play? It was not reckless or intentional as Tu’avao is bent over at the waist pretty far and his knee is so low it’s almost touching the grass. He’s parallel with the trylines and does not drive through to apply extra force. That means we have to decide if it is avoidable. That happens in step 4.

3. Degree of danger? It was a direct hit rather than indirect. I’d put it at a fairly normal amount of force neither high or low as the tackle wasn’t driven through nor was it a glancing blow.

4. Mitigation? I’m just going to call out the second bullet point, a “sudden and significant drop”. Lasaqa made a cut, his left foot slides, and he drops to his right knee; which is why a big forward already bent in half at the waist and almost kneeling on the grass himself makes contact with Lasaqa’s head.

It’s about as clear cut as can be. The response shown here in the law guidelines ( https://www.world.rugby/the-game/laws/guidelines/17 ) is “PLAY ON” and “NO FAULT”. I’ve been frustrated with him before, but Derek Summers was very clear and correct explaining this on the broadcast when acting as the TMO. You gotta give him props for that.

McCarthy, can I speak to you directly for a moment? You can be the color commentary guy, or the play by play, not both. Preferably not either since your bias is always very clear whatever game you are doing. That’s not appropriate, or professional for a national/worldwide broadcast. It’s barely acceptable for local announcers on local broadcasts. You know, small timers. No one cares that you have a car from a Sheehy dealership. We wanted to watch the restart that we missed because you were too busy name dropping and talking about yourself, again. It wasn’t even the first time that happened during the second half. A now one score game with all the excitement anyone could ask for is going on and we’re missing it because you can’t stop with the autofellation. It’s the same reason people stop tuning into your show. You have amazing guests on, and speak over rather than facilitate them. 

The Weird: The wind played an impressive role in this game. Kicks stalled out or took an unexpected trajectory on a regular basis. Lineouts should have been done at a 30 degree angle cause otherwise that ball was not going to be thrown in straight. In fact, 7 lineouts were lost in this game between both teams.

Takeaways: Inconsistent, and undisciplined play has dogged this team since inception. One minute they look like world beaters, the next minute there’s a series of players bouncing off runners or doinking balls off stone hands. It’s not like there hasn’t been coaching changes. There’s been player changes. There have even been front office changes. It’s aggravating. Does everyone on this team get T-Rex arms as part of their contract? Two cards in the last 23 minutes to lose a two score game is unacceptable. It would have me foaming at the mouth as a player or coach.

CLEAN IT UP! Davies in his halftime interview mentioned wanting fast paced “ruthless” play. This team is built for it; and when they play to their potential they look unbeatable. When they play fast, aggressive, but undisciplined they just start shooting themselves in the foot over and over and over and over and over and over again.