COMMENT: By Gregor Paul in Perth
Tests can be a right old mad house when World Rugby are daft enough to leave French referee Jérôme Garcès in charge.
He certainly doesn't excel himself when he referees the All Blacks and fresh from persuading his French mate Romain Poite to steal the final test against the British and Irish Lions from New Zealand, his next meaningful act was to red card Scott Barrett for an offence that some referees would have hummed and hawed whether to have even shown a yellow card.
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Poor old Barrett can consider his red card one of the least deserved in history. A yellow would have surely appeased Garcès' need to do something dramatic and impose himself on the game and yellow would have at least given the contest what it needed to flourish as a two-way street.
But Garcès is a law unto himself and while New Zealanders may snort and rage about the injustice of it all genuinely wonder if rugby might end up a non-contact sport in the next decade, the world governing body will no doubt be ready to reward him again come the World Cup.
He faced no sanction for his awfulness in the Lions series. The greatest scandal of 2017 was ignored by World Rugby and Garcès, and Poite for that matter, are allowed to whistle while they work without a care in the world.
While a solid referee such as Glen Jackson is deemed surplus to requirements, Garcès will be in Japan almost certainly making mischief and refereeing to his own rule book and should he get the chance, probably stuffing up the All Blacks in any way he can.
He handed the Wallabies a record victory in Perth. Or more fairly, he gave them a helping - an enormous helping hand - because they still had to create their tries and finish the All Blacks off which they did. And did well, but judgement day will have to wait until 15 go against 15.
Garcès, interestingly enough, was the referee who sent off Sonny Bill Williams in Wellington in the second test against the Lions – a decision that was 100 per cent right – and one that meant the All Blacks were at least not in unprecedented territory in Perth.
When they went a man down against the Lions, they fell into the trap of getting too narrow in both their vision and execution.
They tightened up too much, became overly conservative and stopped seeing the space. They ended up losing but, despite being a man down for that length of time against the Lions, they felt they should still have won had they been willing to back themselves more in attack.
If there was a positive, then, for the All Blacks to take from their predicament, it was their immediate realisation that they had to attack to give themselves any chance of salvaging something from the game.
It was an impossible task – or close to – to believe they could win with a man down, but they did at least show the sort of passion and enterprise that suggests that while they may have fallen into a dark hole, it is one they have some hope of climbing out of.
If there was a recurring thought in the second half – other than Garcès is a plonker and Michael Hooper a relentless whiner - it was that the All Blacks have a phenomenal number of quality footballers who can conjure something out of nothing.
The best players on the park policy, it could be seen even on a desperate night in terms of the outcome, has tremendous potential.
Ardie Savea was simply brilliant as was Kieran Read whose defensive effort was everything the All Blacks could ever want in a captain.
The dual playmaking thing is going to work and while it is all so tempting to think the All Blacks are off to hell in a hand cart and blowing up horribly on the run in to the World Cup, the panic can wait.
Having Garcès as referee creates an extraordinary set of circumstances.