Coach Johnson launches blistering attack on match officials after beating

2013-06-17 00:00

SCOTLAND coach Scott Johnson has launched a blistering attack on the match officials after his side were beaten 30-17 by the heavily favoured Springboks in the Incoming Series international in Nelspruit on Saturday evening.

The Scots, regarded as hopeless and helpless underdogs, were sniffing victory early in the second half when they led the rattled Springboks 17-6. But French referee Roman Poite finally hammered the crafty Scots with a penalty try and a yellow card, and the Springboks scored 24 points without response in half-an-hour to seal victory — and a meeting with Samoa in the tournament final at Loftus on Saturday evening.

Johnson and Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw both claimed that the yellow-carding of Jim Hamilton by South African television referee Gerrie Coetzee, after the lock had thrust his hand hard into the face of Springbok Eben Etzebeth, was the turning point of the game.

The Boks, who were trailing 13-17 at the time (51 minutes), scored a try minutes later and held a tenuous 20-17 lead until a rush of 10 points in the final five minutes took them to a flattering 13-point win.

“That was an embarrassment to get 10 minutes for that,” an angry Johnson grumbled. “That was handbag stuff and it ruined a great game of footie. It allowed the Boks back into the game. All we ask is for consistency.”

Johnson said that rugby was an aggressive sport with similar incidents every week not handled consistently.

“Did the punishment fit the crime? I saw similar incidents about four or five times in the game alone. The culpability lies with consistency.”

Johnson said he was asked if there was anyone he wanted to cite after the game.

“The fourth official [Coetzee] is probably a good place to start.”

Johnson said there was also no consistency in the refereeing.

“We were up to our eyeballs. We asked the guys for something special and they gave it, but late in the game the Boks didn’t release players and they got the penalties.

“I normally don’t have a crack at officials, my record shows that. But this is a crack.”

The Scottish coach paid warm tribute to his players and their “special” effort.

“We’ve had a horrific week with injuries. These guys gave everything. To say I’m proud is an understatement, but they didn’t deserve some of that, and that is why we’re disappointed.”

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer had little to praise but the character shown by the Springboks in their fightback and the efforts of flank and man of the match Siya Kolisi, who took the field as a replacement for Arno Botha (knee ligament damage) after just four minutes.

“We have lost Arno for the rest of the the year, so it is a pity, but Siya really took his chance well. We were tested out there and that was a proper Test match.”

The Springboks (and scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar) battled to win any quick, clean ball from the breakdown.

“Slowing down the Springboks’ ball was part of our game plan,” Laidlaw said and Meyer added that the refereeing of the breakdown suited the Scots.

“We always knew we had to adapt to northern hemisphere referees and the way they play the breakdown,” Meyer said.

“It was very frustrating with guys off-side or not rolling away. But there are no excuses. It’s just frustrating when you know you have the backs and you can’t get quick ball to let them play.”

Meyer was also critical of the Springboks’ first-half defence — “but the breakdown is a bigger concern”.

The sin-binning of Hamilton might have been harsh but the Scots spent the evening testing the laws — and the referee. And the Scots know that if you choose to live by the sword, you should also be prepared to die by it.

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