15 October, 2011

One decision from Ireland's Rolland could cost him the World Cup Final reffing berth as Wales very unluckily pipped for Rugby World Cup Final spot:

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CONTROVERSY: Should Sam (#7) have been sent off for this?
           Allain Rolland's bid to become the first man to referee two consecutive Rugby World Cup Finals, looks to have come to an end today as he red carded Wales' captain Sam Warburton after just 18 minutes.  The 23 year old is Wales' youngest ever captain and can consider himself a might unlucky to have received his marching orders.  
Warburton lets go of his man -> no spear tackle
            There can be little doubt that Wales would have won comfortably had one of their many talismen not been sent off so early.  As it was; France rode considerable luck to cling on for a 9-8 victory.  The main talking point of the game will be Warburton's sending off and on first look, the incident certainly looked very dangerous.  To all intents and purposes it looked like a "spear" tackle as Warburton lifted Vincent Clerc's knees above the French winger's hips, but with the French man's entire body more than a metre off the ground; crucially, Warburton let go of his man.  This greatly decreased the danger of the tackle, though on first glance it probably seemed a sending off offence.  Upon receiving his marching orders; the young Cardiff man walked soberly to the line, without one word of back chat or protest.
CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Ireland's Rolland (left) could lose Final over big call
         The sending off was certainly pivotal to the eventual outcome, but Wales still had the chances to win, even with 14 men.  Superb scrum half Martin Philips got in for a try as the French defence parted like the Red Sea with Philips cantering home from 20 metres just before the hour to pull Wales within one point.  However, Stephen Jones' resulting conversion clipped the near upright before dropping wide.
SO NEAR AND YET...Philips' try not quite enough for Wales
               12 minutes later, Wales had another chance to take the lead for the first time as Leigh Halfpenny was entrusted to take a penalty from one metre inside the French half.  Whilst the kick was central, it was a long, long way out.  In wet conditions but with very little breeze, Halfpenny struck the ball sweetly and it appeared to be a three pointer all the way.  However, the ball dipped literally inches below the cross bar.  In fact, slow motion replays showed that the shadow of the ball could be seen on the crossbar meaning that the ball came within its own width of the crossbar.  The history books will show that the kick was missed however.  Eventhough Wales monopolised posession for the final eight minutes, they didn't create another opportunity and the 81st minute passed with Wales going through some 25 phases but not getting within 35 metres of the French line before eventually turning the ball over.                                                                                       
SAM's SORROW: Captain and Coach post match
               A nation like Wales - similar to Ireland in size and stature, will get a chance like this maybe once every six World Cups, so this will undoubtedly go down as a chance missed.  Whilst they dominated all stats, they didn't come out the right side of the only stat that really mattered; the scoreboard.  Whilst it certainly is a chance missed for the men from the Valleys, one wonders if it will also be a chance missed for Ireland's Allain Rolland as his red card decision will most likely also cost him a World Cup Final berth.
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