Justin Marshall is a former All Blacks halfback and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Justin Marshall: Poor TMO decision did sloppy side a real favour

Jerome Kaino and Ma'a Nonu of the Blues. Photo / Getty Images
Jerome Kaino and Ma'a Nonu of the Blues. Photo / Getty Images

The Blues were a hard watch at the weekend, and that wasn't entirely down to referee Francisco Pastrana, although he must take some responsibility.

Like the week before against the Lions in Johannesburg, this was a messy affair from the Blues.

There were plenty of basic handling errors - passing, catching, a lot of those skills were missing. Combined with the ref, who seemed to be constantly blowing his whistle, the game was a bit of a fizzer. And then there was that fortuitous TMO decision when George Moala was awarded a try despite a clear double movement.

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The Blues were on the receiving end of a couple of bad ones in South Africa, but this one was harsh on the Cheetahs. What I can't understand is that the TMO said Moala used a second movement to propel himself. When the ref says "I don't think that was a double movement, that was a try", the first words from the TMO should be, "No, I disagree". He has the best view, he should be listened to. He clearly didn't agree with that being a try so he should have said so.

People will say the Blues would have won anyway, but they might not have had the Cheetahs won a penalty, as they should have, rather than conceding a seven-pointer.

If we have this technology, match officials must use it properly because as a fan watching on Saturday night, I'm thinking, 'What the heck are they going to say here?'. There's so much confusion, you're not sure what you're going to get.

Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith - for what must be the first time ever from a player - very honestly told referee Glen Jackson he hadn't scored against the Force in Dunedin a fortnight ago. If they had gone to the TMO, let the lottery begin, a try could have been awarded and his team might have won that game.

The Blues will be happy with the bonus point win. One positive was Simon Hickey's performance. He was given the opportunity to grab the No 10 jersey and he did that. He stepped up, did everything asked of him and his goalkicking was immaculate again

A second positive for the Blues is that amidst all that muddle they still showed glimpses of what they're capable of. Their biggest problem is they're not piecing together a 50-minute performance let alone an 80-minute one. They're still in a 30-minute zone and that won't be enough against the the competition's best performing teams.

Force to be reckoned with

There would have been four extremely happy individuals after that Force victory over the Chiefs, and they will be the head coaches of the four other New Zealand franchises, because this defeat pegs everyone else up the ladder.

When you look at the Force, they're not a team of stars. They've got some good players there in Alby Mathewson, Nick Cummins, Matt Hodgson and Sias Ebersohn, but the rest are journeymen.

Sometimes teams can be galvanised to an extent that they produce unexpected results. It's evident they've got belief there. They won that game off the back of enthusiasm.

Would the Chiefs have under-estimated them? Probably not, because their coaching team is too astute. Were they at their best? Probably not, but they weren't allowed to be.

- NZ Herald

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Justin Marshall is a former All Blacks halfback and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Justin Marshall played 81 test matches for the All Blacks, including four as captain. The halfback made his debut in 1995 against France and ended his career 10 years later with a series sweep over the British and Irish Lions. He won five Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders, playing 105 games for the franchise. He commentates for Sky Television.

Read more by Justin Marshall

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