Comment

Colonialism is alive and well, especially in the north of England.

That's a conclusion that has to be drawn after watching the Kiwis' 18-16 defeat to England in Hull on Sunday morning.

The New Zealand team blew it – after dominating possession and territory for much of the match – and will rue one that got away.

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But they weren't helped by some bizarre moments of officiating.

From early in the match referee Robert Hicks refused to engage with Kiwis skipper Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, not affording him the basic respect due to an international captain.
It seemed clear; Hicks was the headmaster, and Watene-Zelezniak the annoying little schoolboy from the Antipodes.

"Yes mate I agree," said Hicks at one point, cutting off the New Zealander halfway through a query and turning away, clearly uninterested.

At another time he warned the 23-year-old "don't come in having a chip at me", as the Penrith fullback tried to make a point.

Hicks, who is an excellent and experienced referee, had a touch of rugby whistler Nigel Owens about him during this match, taking on the Welshman's determination to be the centre of attention in every match he is part of.

Meanwhile, in the video referee's box Ben Thaler was achieving something previously thought impossible; he made some yearn for the bunker. The NRL operation can be frustrating with their forensic approach, but at least they come across as professional.

Thaler unfortunately came across as someone sitting on the couch with a few mates, throwing Yorkshire Bitter and pork pies around.

His monologue while assessing replays was almost comical, and even the local commentators mentioned that a "slightly condensed [version] will be good for the atmosphere".

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Early in the first half, while assessing a possible Jordan Rapana try, he mentioned that the "Australian man's hand is below the ball'.

Please.

Thaler also made the crucial penalty try call against the Kiwis late in the first half, which was a stretch. But it was also the way he assertively decided for himself, instead of suggesting it to the on field referee, which grated.

Meanwhile, Hicks found some bewildering calls. A Tom Burgess knock on as he fell to the ground was ignored - "as the tackle had been completed" then Johnson was penalised for lying in the ruck, even though the Kiwis five-eighth had tried to clear the area, only to be pulled back into it by Sam Tomkins.

None of those calls decided the match, but they all moved the momentum, and frustrated Watene-Zelezniak, still learning about the demands of international captaincy.

His ill fated attempts to engage with Hicks even caused some mirth in the television commentary box, with the lead commentator suggesting that their running battles could be turned into a podcast.

His colleagues, Robbie Paul and Johnathan Davies, strayed from the BBC doctrine of letting the pictures tell the story and filled the broadcast with constant interjections, but needed to sprinkle more insight.

"That's what a penalty does," said Davies at one point. "It relieves all the pressure and turns the pressure on its head"

Gems such as this didn't add much for the millions watching on free to air across the United Kingdom.