Review of Adamson’s performance in Stormers wins for interesting reading – The Irish Times

Unbearable tension in Cape Town. The very last kick brought down Ulster and brought victory to the Stormers.

The clock was colored the deepest shade of red as Mannie Libbok’s conversion from Warwick Gelant’s essay climbed high and up the pole. Just inside? Or not? That was the crucial question – in laws, a kick over the post is not a score. For reasons of fairness and full credibility, a review was necessary, but referee Mike Adamson and TMO Ben Whitehouse remained silent.

Given the crucial importance of this decisive moment, the officials had to do better and demonstrate that the decision on the field was right or wrong. Unless we’ve all missed something, that’s why the technology is there.

Adamson’s performance will be studied by both teams. Problems abounded, especially during the breakdown. Before the vital score, the Stormers appeared to fly out and go beyond the ball, ensuring possession was protected.

After Gelant dived, several Ulster knees slipped unnecessarily into his ribs. He was rightly angry and a cardable infraction went unnoticed by both the referee and the TMO; not good enough. In a decision with a low degree of difficulty, the officials had been correct earlier when sending a red to Adre Smith, for contact at eye level by Iain Henderson.

Smith, convicted of biting Munster’s Niall Scannell last October, cannot expect any sympathy from the judiciary. I have no idea why players, capable of such wrongdoing, have a place in the game.

That red may have lulled Ulster into a false sense of security, and their energy levels clearly plummeted as they absorbed wave after wave of intense pressure over the final 15 minutes. Immediately afterwards, a remarkably calm Dan McFarland said Ulster did not deserve to win, but he will also know they could have.

They had a disastrous start, conceding an early try. In fact, Adamson was rushing under the posts to award a penalty try, when he received reports that one had already been scored. The referee was very lucky, there was no obvious reason for a penalty try, and a team going over the goal line obviously wants to go down.

All in all, there were too many refereeing issues. Ulster were denied a penalty for the ball slapped forward and into touch. Another disappeared when Stuart McCloskey was lifted above the horizontal and dropped, not a card, but clearly a penalty. Both would have given Ulster some much-needed positive positions on the pitch.

Then the Stormers rightly looked askance at Stewart Moore’s goal pass to Robert Baloucoune, which looked very good leaving Moore’s hands in a forward direction. That’s the yardstick for judging passes, and no one would have been surprised to see him called up; but the officials, the only ones who mattered, decided that everything was fine.

Adamson’s performance review would make for interesting reading, but we won’t know about it. It might just sound like one of my dreaded school math reports, “must do so much better, will move it down a grade.”

Last time, this column ventured to say the Bulls weren’t traveling north to lose.

It’s tempting to claim exceptional wisdom and say that was my prediction of the outcome. But the truth is I was expecting a Leinster win, probably a one score game; certainly not by the insanely wide margins and odds that the bookmakers were offering.

The first signs that something different was in the air were the Bulls’ powerful chokehold on Leinster’s opening attacks. Against probably every other URC opponent they would have opened their account then – the vigorous defense indicated a real challenge.

Leinster were in bad spirits and, after a 12-try thrashing against Glasgow, they were also undercooked. In case they fell short and were beaten well; the history books will show a one-point game, but that’s not the real story. Leinster were outgunned, overpowered at crucial moments, with captain James Ryan failing to live up to his reputation; Leinster needed several outstanding performances to energize the team, but they were not to be seen.

The referees, on paper, lacked experience for a semi-final of this magnitude, but referee Andrea Piardi did quite well, his assistants less so. He was very good in the first 30 minutes, but when things picked up speed he found himself in new territory under pressure. He also let himself be dragged too close to the breakdown, and it’s very difficult to make precise decisions from there, but let’s not forget he had the ‘bottle’ to properly award a penalty try against the home team.

When Canan Moodie’s insane Stuart Hogg-style moment dropped the ball over the Leinster line, assistant Gianluca Gnecchi was on hand to give the most enthusiastic referee a thumbs up,” try!” – with friends like that… and so on. Either way, Piardi sorted it out and came back for a penalty; The bulls took a short one and mauled for the line, changing sides, they smartly cut against the grain, and Johan Grobbelaar dived. World Cup winning coach Jake White’s fingerprints were everywhere, expect them to be copied.

There were too many Leinster players on Piardi’s ear and, while trying to ignore him, he should have demanded better behavior. Johnny Sexton arrived shortly before the hour mark, and only he knows why, but he gave an immediate and impromptu demonstration of exactly how not to talk or get along with a referee. No need for drastic measures, but Piardi, and his trainer Alain Rolland, must find a much less tolerant approach.

Laws provide many tools for arbitrators to stop all of this, and these must be used or they have only themselves to blame.

Leo Cullen’s post-match comments paid little, if any, attention to the referee, and it was mostly fair. Piardi did not influence the result.

Finally, let’s measure something else, Adamson against Piardi – it was not a contest, the Italian won it, and by several kilometers.

Chester T. Johnson