Referee Review - Nigel Bradley - Patumahoe vs Bombay Premier

Monday meeting came along and I was excited to get the appointment of Paddy vs. Bombay.  Both teams in the top 4 so will be keenly contested.  Spoke with Simon about the round 1 clash to get some insight.  His assessment was similar to mine as I had reffed both teams at least twice this season and have AR’ed a game each as well.  Big contest at the breakdown with both teams wanting to use their backs as much as possible.

Training this week has been interrupted.  I ran both Monday and Tuesday mornings but was away for work in Whangarei Tuesday night.  While away I started to develop a cold which I have kept into Friday. Work this week has been full on with many meetings and not much time to attend to the day to day stuff of my job.  As a result I have hardly thought about the upcoming game.

I have had several rugby related calls to attend to in my role as Chairman.  One of my AR’s got changed during the week, we got notified of criteria for Mitre 10 Cup AR and TMO appointments, a team manger rung requesting a referee’s phone number so they could apologise about their teams behaviour last Saturday, also a couple of calls from others in the association about various goings on.  On Thursday, while at a work meeting, I saw I missed a call from Gary Martin, our secretary.  He had terrible news that Rob VanTiel (life member) had had an aneurism which lead to a heart attack and car accident and was on life support.  This terrible news was followed up on Friday morning with the news he passed away Thursday night. 

This news has upset me greatly as I have known Rob for the whole 25 years I have been involved in Counties Manakau Rugby referees.  When I made the top 5 I displaced him and I will always remember Rob vowing he would fight to get back in.  Since then he offered sound advice to help my game improve.  He stepped in as Chairman and held that position for several years and was also a life member of our association.  Sitting writing this on Friday afternoon I just feel empty but determined to put in a good performance for him.

Saturday rolls around, I still have the remninants of my cold but are feeling much better. I follow my normal meal routine and have cereal for breakfast and banana sandwiches for lunch.  I have some stuff I need to get sorted for work and at home so can’t get out to watch any morning games this week.  Tracey also has a cold so is not coming to rugby today.

I leave for Patumahoe and arrive just on 1PM.  With an under 21 and reserve game being played it is easy to watch 2 games and see how both Brandon and Colin are going.  I run into both coaches early and arrange times.  John (Patumahoe) is keen to talk about how they have improved their work at the breakdown and concentrating on staying over the ball instead of going for the ball.  Jeff (Bombay) has seen footage of Patumahoe and we discuss his concerns about lineout numbers, obstruction at the line out and lineout offside’s.  The Bombay side have had 2 deaths of relatives of players in their side and are keen to have a minutes silence prior to the match.  Given Rob’s passing I agree this is a great idea and we ask the Patumahoe manager if this is OK, they agree.

The first 30 minutes are fiercely fought out with both sides keen to run the ball and spread from side to side.  There are a couple of tackle penalties and off sides and both teams have shots at goal from long range.  The pace of the game is frantic and I am breathing pretty heavy a couple of times after long phases of play.  One incident stands out from this half.  Patumahoe make a break and kick through.  I believe it was knocked back by Bombay and gathered by Patumahoe to score.  I look at Hayden (AR) and he is on the comms telling to stop and come and discuss (as per our AR briefing).  I blow time off and he tells me he saw the ball come off a Patumahoe hand.  A great example of the team of 3 getting the right result together. 

There are a number of injury breaks in the last 10 minutes and we go to half time with Patumahoe up 9-3.  Not much to discuss at half time just to maintain off sides and scrums seem to be going OK.  Breakdown intense but pretty clean.

Patumahoe start the second half well and after sustained attack score a penalty (blatant off side) and a converted try.  Bombay came back with 2 quick tries and a conversion to make it a 4 point game.  At this time the intensity lifted and the tension between the teams showed through with verbals and a push and shove after a head high tackle.  I was able to keep a lid on the emotions and Patumahoe show better resolve and score 2 more tries to finish off the game and cause what most people would consider an upset.

The intensity during this game was massive and typical of top 4 clashes.  I really enjoyed the game and it is great to be involved after reffing many blow outs during the year.

After the match I got to make a speech in the clubrooms so was able to pay tribute to Robbie, our sponsors and my AR’s Brandon who had reffed 2 games prior and Hayden who had reffed 2 games and AR’ed for Brandon before this game.  Both guys receive a round of applause which we all appreciated.