World Cup: SAMOA 22 FRANCE 6 at Stade Gilbert Brutus

By STEVE MASCORD
FRANCE coach Richard Agar accused NRL referee Henry Perenara of being “weak” and jokingly questioned whether he was a New Zealander or a Samoan following a rugged end to the group stages of the World Cup.
The Samoans had three players reported a total of four times and one of them – Mose Masoe – also sent to the sin bin during an 22-6 win in Perpignan which allowed them to avoid England in the quarter-finals.
Instead, the Samoans -they dedicated the win to squad member Penani Manumalealii whose mother May died in a car crash during the week – will play Fiji on Sunday. The remaining quarters pit New Zealand against Scotland, the United States against Australia and France against England.
“I thought it was weak at times,” said Englisman Agar. “How many guys did they have on report? I lost count at times.
“Is Henry a Kiwi or Samoan? I’m just trying to work that one out.
“There were penalties for absolutely nothng in the ruck and our halfbacks were just open targets for some very, very late challenges. One sin binning, I think they’d be happy with the result, it was probably worth their while.
“We had one halfback leave the field twice on the back of those challenges.”
France’s Roosters-bound prop Remi Casty added: “We’ve had red cards for lesser infractions. I don’t know if the rules are different in this tournament,.”
But Samoa coach Matt Parish reckoned “some of the Frenchmen could be in line for Academy Awards” for their reactions to the incidents.
“Their ball players went to the line; all our blokes made contact with their shoulder, their were no high shots. It was debatable whether they were late.”
|In front of the angriest crowd of the tournamernt so far, Leeson Ah Mau took out William Bathau late and high after 12 minutes and 60 seconds later Sauaso Sue claimed the halfback from behind.
An off-the-ball shoulder charge went unpunished before Sydney Rooster Masoe was give a spell for another, on Thomas Bosc.
Then centre Tim Lafai got a mention in referee Henry Perenara’s report for a speak tackle, and Wests Tigers’ Sue another one, for a possible trip. “There’s no way he stuck his foot out to tray and trip someone,” said Parish
On each occasion, the 11,576 crowd made it very clear it expected sterner action from the match officials.
But amid such uncouthness, it was pure rugby league poetry that assured the Samoans of victory.
Taking the ball 15 metres out with a standing start, fullback Anthony Milford dazzled the French defence with probably the individual try of the tournament five minutes after halftime.
He beat five defenders to dot down between the posts and converted himself to break a 6-6 deadlock; from there the Samoans weren’t headed.
France went close a number of times, however, with a two man overlap completely slaughtered on one occasion by Sebastian Raguin to the audible frustration of the fans, who follow Catalan in Super League.
Cronulla’s Manumalealii decided to stay in camp despite the loss of his mother in Christchurch. His father, who was also reportedly hurt in the accident, encouraged him to stay on.
France go into the quarters with the worst record of any surviving team
SAMOA 22 (Daniel Vidot, Anthony Milford, Antonio Winterstein, Pita Godinet tries; Milford 3 goals) bt FRANCE 6 (Morgan Escare try; Thomas Bosc goal) at Stade Gilbert Brutus. Crowd: 11,576. Referee: Henry Perenara (New Zealand).

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Four Nations: NEW ZEALAND 14 SAMOA 12 at Toll Stadium, Whangarei

Parish, MattBy STEVE MASCORD

FURIOUS coach Matt Parish claimed Samoa had been treated “like second class citizens” after another agonising late defeat at the Four Nations.

A 75th minute try by centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall saved the Kiwis from suffering the first loss by a top-three country in the history of the tournament – but Parish was fuming over the decision to appoint New Zealander Henry Perenara as referee.

Asked what stuck out in his mind about an epic contest played in front of 16,912 fans at Whangarei’s Toll Stadium, Parish replied: “The 6-2 penalty count in the second half.

“Last week there were three video refereeing decisions that went against us and cost us 14 points. Today, we led all but the end and got penalised 6-2 in the second half in a tough game.

“Who was the video ref last week?” he asked journalists. It was Perenara.

Parish continued: “I’ve got a whole team of shattered blokes down there. What do you say to them? Do you think they could do any more than they did out there today?

“Mate, we get treated like second class citizens. It’s about time they took a bit of notice.”

Earlier, long serving Test referee and World Cup match officials board member Stuart Cummins said the decision to appoint Perenara to a New Zealand game and Aussie Gerard Sutton to Sunday’s Anglo-Australian Test in Melbourne meant international football had “gone backwards”.

Asked if he would like to have seen a referee from a neutral country, Parish said: “That’s an understatement.

 amazon“Ben Roberts does a kick …. Adam Blair was taking kickers out left, right and centre all day … (Frank Pritchard) pushes him, they come back and give a penalty. That’s a game changer.

“We were up 12-6 then, with 20 minutes to go. Mose Masoe’s clearly got a chicken wing – play on. Tim Simona, they get him in a headlock. Play on.

“I told these blokes, ‘if they touch our kickers, don’t cop it’.”

Pritchard admitted he was giving Perenara “constantly, too much of a spray. If I think the call is wrong, I’m definitely going to stand up and give it to him.”

Controversy aside, the Four Nations delivered its best game despite the Samoans being 7-1 outsiders. On Saturday’s evidence, New Zealand v Samoa could one day be the Pacific’s answer to State of Origin.

Fans engaged in chanting wars between singing and dancing at the natural amphitheatre in bright sunshine as Samoa scored first through winger Tautai Moga after three minutes.

By halftime, the Samoans led 8-6. After the break, centre Joey Leilua – probably the man of the match – used a giant fend on Kenny-Dowall to extend the lead to 12-6.

Centre Tim Lafai had no luck with his three conversion attempts. It’s the second week in a row Samoa have scored as many tries as their opposition only to be beaten by goal-kicking.

Two passages of play stand out from the second half.

The first was when NZ’s Issac Luke was ankle-tapped after making a break but managed to off-load. The Kiwis kept the ball alive from touchline to touchline before forcing a line dropout, with winger Jason Nightingale scoring off the next set.

donate2The other was a forced pass by Samoa half Ben Roberts with six minutes to go, which resulted in a turnover that gave the Kiwis possession for Kenny-Dowall’s clincher in the corner.

Kiwis captain Simon Mannering used the word complacency in a fulltime interview, later saying his side tried to play too fancily. Coach Stephen Kearney admitted attitude may have been wanting.

“If you want to call that getting out of jail, you can,” said Kearney said. “Early, late – does it matter?

“It’s a Test match win and we’re very pleased downstairs to be celebrating a Test match win.’

There was a minutes silence before kick-off for young Warriors Luke Tipene, who was killed in a violent brawl in Auckland on Friday night.

A new trophy was awarded at fulltime, perhaps intended to be rugby league’s equivalent of the Americas Cup.

The Peter Leitch Trophy will be on offer to Pacific countries visiting New Zealand. On Saturday’s evidence, it won’t stay in the Shakey Isles for long.

NEW ZEALAND 14 (Keiran Foran, Jason Nightingale, Shaun Kenny Dowall tries; Shaun Johnson goal) beat SAMOA 12 (Tautai Moga, Daniel Vidot, Joey Leilua tries) at Toll Stadium, Whangarei. Referee: Henry Perenara (New Zealand). Crowd: 16,912.

Filed for: SUN-HERALD

THE WRAP: NRL Finals Week One

NRL logoBy STEVE MASCORD

MY furry colleague at Rugby League Week, the Mole, last week wrote that Greg Inglis was unlikely to play in the World Cup due to his ongoing knee problem.

So when the finals series kicked off on Friday night, a couple of hours before kick-off between South Sydney and Melbourne at ANZ Stadium, I asked the Rabbitohs coach about the situation.

“I get asked that every week,” said Michael Maguire, who your correspondent interviewed pre-game for Triple M.

“To be honest, his knee’s where it needs to be. He got through a full week’s training this week, which is a real positive for us.”

You’ll remember the first week of the 2013 finals for your reasons. Maybe your team won, maybe your team lost, maybe your team is the North Queensland Cowboys which means they should have done the former but ended up doing the latter.

Maybe you’re Matt Cecchin or Henry Perenara, in which case you will never forget the weekend just passed.

Me? I spent the weekend doing a lot of radio; so much so that I still have the vestiges of a headache from wearing headphones for hours on end. So I’m going to do turn this week’s wrap into a kind of Things You May Have Missed – stuff I came across that slipped between the cracks of the daily news cycle.

FRIDAY:

Maguire went on to secure his first win over Melbourne, 20-10.

“We missed the start last time against Melbourne, we missed it against the Roosters,” said Souths utility Chris McQueen said.

Jason Clark suffered a knee injury at training and was in doubt right up to kick-off.

“We had the captain’s run last night and we were pretty confident,” he said, “But we left it right up until the game.”

SATURDAY

While his team-mates celebrated, Todd Carney cut a disconsolate figure as he limped towards the tunnel with a serious hamstring injury after the 20-18 win for Cronulla over North Queensland.

“The leg feels a bit sore,” he told me “It’s a bit disappointing, I can’t soak it up with the boys. I’ll have to do everything possible to get it right for the game.

“I wouldn’t have played if it wasn’t 100 per cent. I did everything I had to do yesterday but obviously it fatigued and it’s gone wrong again.

“It was a sharp pain, like happened a few weeks ago, and it just got worse as the game went on but I couldn’t leave the field.”

Shane Flanagan on Carney: “He hasn’t torn the hamstring, he’s just getting referred pain from his back.”

The Sharks had been unaware of Beau Ryan’s seventh-tackle try. Paul Gallen: “I just found out about it off Ryan Girdler. Sometimes you get things go your way, sometimes you don’t. We’ll take it.

“I suppose the NRL probably thought Melbourne were going to be here but they weren’t. Too everyone’s credit, the Roosters fans and the Manly fans, they turned out to watch us play as well.”

The Cowboys didn’t know either. Antonio Winterstein: “We didn’t have any idea, that’s the first time I’ve heard about it. We can’t do anything about it now. I thought he (Kane Linnett) had it there. The replay showed otherwise.”

Despite the rancour afterwards, Matt Bowen was nothing if not a sportsman. “It is disappointing to go out the way we did but in saying that, full credit to the Sharkies. They wanted it more than we did,” was his remarkable comment.

“It wasn’t meant to be tonight. In saying that, we did a couple of things to hurt (ourselves) in the first half. We can’t do anything about it now. They got the win and they get to play on and we don’t

On his future, Bowen said: “I’ll have to make a decision next week. We’ll see what happens.”

Coach Flanagan’s heart sank when Bowen got the ball with a few seconds left. “He was the one person in the rugby league world I didn’t want to have the ball,” Flanagan said.
A time keeper approached Flanagan while I was waiting to speak to him, to explain the confusion at fulltime over time on the clock.

“They just explained to me it was the clock the referees see on the ground.. The actual referees and time keeper did tell him there was 11 seconds to go. It was just a technical glitch with the game clock that all the fans saw and the players see as well.”

Does he care that the seventh tackle try took the gloss off the victory?

“I do care. It was done earlier. These things happen in our game, it’s human error. The referees, if they made a mistake, they didn’t mean it, I’m sure.

Neil Henry has been painted as a conspiracy theorist but he also said this to me, on the ABC: “No-one goes out to deliberately get the tackle count wrong. But with the number of officials they’ve got, they should get it right.

“I think the refereeing, overall, has improved a bit. We saved a couple of our worst decisions for the big stage.”

The next game was a 4-0 win for the Roosters over Manly – the scoreline from a certain preliminary final in 1992 which this Illawarra fan would rather forget.

“We’ll improve our attack next week but that’s the way we need to be defending at this time of year,” said Roosters five-eighth James Maloney.

All the points were scored by young winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. I asked if he’d ever done that before.

“It’s a first try for me. I’m glad I was able to get the points for the boys.” He then gave this gem of a quote: “We just looked at each other and said ‘this is who we are, this is the game we play’.”

The big worry for Manly fans must be backing up six days after and out-and-out war Geoff Toovey: “We’re fortunate we’re playing the Cronulla Sharks. They had a tough game here today as well, against the Cowboys. Very physical there as well and they played a similar type of football. Hopefully they’re as bumped and bruised as we are.”

I spoke to Roosters coach Trent Robinson after the game and again the next day on ABC’s The Hit-Up

“I grew up watching the eighties games and enjoyed that sort of footy,” he said. “The courage that used to get shown back then, we had to show tonight – along with Manly, We both showed it.

“Both sides should be proud.”

SUNDAY:

On Sunday, Robinson paid tribute to Steve Menzies, whose career ended with Hull’s 14-4 win over Catalan on Friday night.

“It’s a bit like Sonny coming here, my first head coaching gig, I recruited Beaver. He allowed me to coach him. He doesn’t need to stop, the way that he’s still playing.”

Video referees Justin Morgan and Luke Patten were booked as guests before the seventh tackle furore. Asked if video refs are supposed to keep count for the men on the field, Morgan said:  “Yes. That is right. It’s somebody’s role in the box to keep the tackle count during the match for reinforcement and correction. It would have been somebody’s job last night.?

And do you tell the referees about major blunders at halftime?

Morgan: “For me, it’s very similar to coaching. You have to know the individual. You have to know how they’ll take that information on. Some referees will want to know. They’ll want to know that information. They’ll want to know ‘did I get that right?’ ‘Did I get that wrong?’

“Others, you most probably need to be a bit more gentle … most of them, if they ask you the question, they want a straight answer.’

The final guest before I headed out to see Newcastle eliminate Canterbury 22-6 was Parramatta chairman Steve Sharp.

“We’ll have something in the pipeline in the next week, or two maximum, as to who’s going to be our coach,” he said.

Do players joining the club next year have get-out clauses? “In fact, if they don’t want to come to our club, I don’t really want them there. We want people who want to play for the club.”

What about the Bulldogs chasing Jarryd Hayne? “Jarryd’s got a contract with the club which he has just extended for two years. There is no getout clause. Jarryd’s going to be here in 14 and 15 at least.”

Filed for: SMITHYSPEAKS.COM.AU

read on

THE JOY OF SEVEN: Finals Week One

se7enBy STEVE MASCORD
BEARING BAD NEWS
SHOULD referees be told at halftime if they have committed a major error in a big ticket match that has the potential to affect the outcome? The argument in favour of informing them is that they are likely to find out anyway, with video officials, reserve referees, strappers and even spectators coming into contact with them at the break. The argument against is that even if they don’t feel pressure to square up, there will be a perception to that effect which can be plausibly denied if they are not aware of their error. Neil Henry and  Shane Flanagan each decided against telling their players about the seventh-tackle try. “It’s like coaching players, you have to take into consideration what makes people tick,” video referee Justin Morgan said on ABC when asked whether it is common practice when asked whether it was common practice to tell referees at halftime of their stuff-ups.

SWINGS, ROUNDABOUTS AND EMPTY STANDS
LAST week we wrote about how rugby league has a habit of solving one problem, and then revisiting an old one as a result. The NRL insisted the double header was not a result of this interminable cycle, that they wanted it regardless of the AFL’s intentions. OK, we liked the double-header so well done. How about this? Finals in week one are poorly attended because teams in two games have a second chance. We respond in 1999 by introducing a system under which most week one games are potentially sudden death. This is scrapped as unfair. We return to a formula where the elimination games are clearly identified – and the crowds stay away. Back to square one? (Doesn’t explain the poor crowd on Sunday though).

CENSORS CENSORED
IS the NRL seriously suggesting that a coach who throws up suggestions of a conspiracy involving the administration and referees to influence the result of matches won’t be fined next year? The NRL censors have come badly unstuck with the seventh tackle drama. Neil Henry stopped short of saying he believed the conspiracy theories; under the previous League policy, that may have just saved him. But under this year’s crackdown on “excessive” criticism, it’s an insult to the intelligence to say he didn’t “step over the mark”. The only defence was that the situation justified the reaction – and that’s the very reason the NRL itself overstepped the mark in its draconian censorship.

BETTER OFF ALONE
ONE of the few positives at the weekend for the NRL administration was the double-header, which produced two fantastic games and a memorable atmosphere. Or was it? As it turns out, Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson was not a fan. “I thought we could have filled that (stadium), just a Manly-Roosters game, if it was ticketed as that,” said Robinson. “It was a big clash, we could have done that better. Logistically, it was fine but I’m not sure if the crowd was as big as it could have been. From a Roosters point of view, I thought it could have been done differently from the NRL.” The combined attendance on Saturday was 32,747.

SHARP RETORT
PARRAMATTA chairman Steve Sharp has backed suggestions by Nathan Hindmarsh and Matthew Johns that Eels players were not all that unhappy to see coach Ricky Stuart leave. “I think the players were looking for a fresh start,” said Sharp. “I think that influenced Ricky’s decision. It may have been on his mind and influenced his performance.” Sharp also had this to say about Denis Fitzgerald’s offer to become involved in the club again: “Denis and other people who have been working behind the scenes to downtrod (sic) our club over the last few months need to take a bit of a holiday.” On players who reportedly have get-out clauses, Sharp said on ABC: “I’ve had no contact with any player managers saying they are not bringing their players to the club. In fact, if they don’t want to come to our club, I don’t really want them there.”

AND IN OTHER NEWS
ON a bad weekend for officiating, it’s worth noting that an innovation helped get two decisions right in one of the Under 20s finals. With the scores tied between Brisbane and Wests Tigers near the end of regulation time at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, Brisbane received two penalties in kicking distance. On each occasion, Wests Tigers used the ‘captains challenge’ facility being employed in Holden Cup this year and on each occasion, the joint venture won. The match went into overtime and Wests Tigers kept their season alive. The captains’ challenge is almost certain to be used in first grade eventually. Intriguing, though, than in identical circumstance in the NRL, the result would have been different.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT
IT’S always bitter sweet when your favourite parodist joins the mainstream. And so it was when Denis Carnahan, the man behind the “That’s In Queensland” jingle, became part of the match-day entertainment at the weekend. Denis had to learn the words to “Give Your Love To A Cowboy Man” pretty promptly. But the implications of meeting those you send up was more stark when was asked to write and perform a song at the Canberra Raiders’ annual presentation night. A Raiders fan, Carnahan was initially given carte blanche when it came to subject matter. But as the Green Machine came a cropper, the list of taboo subjects – from Pineapple Cruisers to ASADA – got longer. He must have done a good job; the lyric sheet is destined for the pool room of club patriarch John ‘JR’ McIntyre.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD