Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Wayne Barnes spots a forward pass - this time

Alun Wyn Jones of Wales makes a case to Referee Wayne Barnes during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales. Photo / Getty Images.
Alun Wyn Jones of Wales makes a case to Referee Wayne Barnes during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales. Photo / Getty Images.

Wayne Barnes was in the middle of another forward pass controversy during the All Blacks' win over Wales last night.

The decision had no impact on the outcome of the test - the All Blacks were leading 32-21 and eventually added another try to their final advantage - but it did evoke some particularly bad memories.

Barnes, of course, was the man in charge when France knocked the All Blacks out of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, failing to spot a clear forward pass in the build-up to a French try.

The referee had no such problems last night - in fact, it was the opposite. After TJ Perenara crossed for what he thought was his side's fifth try, Barnes sent the decision up to the television match official to check whether Aaron Cruden's pass had drifted forward.

The TMO saw no evidence to support that and was set to award the try but, watching on the Eden Park big screen, Barnes decided to overrule his colleague and deny Perenara.
It was a contentious decision, with most observers believing the pass and try were both legitimate.

"Wrong decision by Wayne Barnes," tweeted former England international Will Carling. "If you applied the same criteria to scoring passes - so many tries would be disallowed."

Cruden was diplomatic.

"I guess it's one of those things," he said. "I like the benefit of the doubt to the attacking team. Looking at the tape, I thought the momentum of my hands was back."

Coach Steve Hansen was equally phlegmatic saying: "well, he got that one didn't he?"

Fortunately for the All Blacks, it was not the pivotal moment of the match. Halfback Aaron Smith described Waisake Naholo as a "game changer" for scoring the try which gave his side the lead in the second half.

Smith's quick penalty tap to Naholo, who went through first-five Dan Biggar for the try, turned out to be a big influence on the tight test. Some might have questioned Smith's option to take a quick tap close to the uprights and with the game on the line but the halfback backed his side to score a decisive try.

"It was a good a period for us, the start of that second half," Smith said. "The coaches and the boys always say back yourself. It was on, all our forwards were to the left and all their forwards were marking them. I saw Biggar and I saw Waisake and I thought those looked like pretty good odds. He had a pretty good run up which was helpful.

"The way we bounced back in the second half was awesome. You could see we had a bit of skin in the game. We were trying to take it to them. You could see how we were on attack and defence; that's what gave me the confidence to take the tap there and not take the three. We were trying really hard leading up to that. You could see that they had knocked off a little bit and we took advantage of it."

- NZ Herald

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