I’m still recovering from the excitement of seeing the Super 14 rugby semi-final last night at the Sydney Football stadium with a capacity crowd. I came home and celebrated the Waratahs’ win, so I’m ever so slightly still fragile.
After some totally unnecessary faffing about with a military helicopter and the Waratahs’ mascot, Tah Man (new since I last went to one of their matches) the game got under way. Despite my humbugging impulses, I must admit that the throb of those huge rotor blades sending a breeze through the entire stadium was rather thrilling, and Tah Man is sufficiently larrikinish to provoke a few smiles.
We had good seats overlooking the northern try line, which meant we had perfect views of the ‘Tahs first two tries, the first by my lad Lote, who saw a chance to scoop up a misplayed ball and showed them a clean pair of orange heels until he got over the line. We were entertained by the lads in the row behind us, who took it upon themselves, as a mission, to heckle the Sharks’ fans sitting in our section in such a way that you could have mistaken those lads for cricketers.
Actually, at first they made me a bit uncomfortable, using graphic misogynistic slurs casually against the Sharks and their supporters – I thought it was going to be all I could do to sit there and endure the shouted slurs, let alone enjoy the game. But they stopped that about 10 minutes into the match -I think someone may have had a word with them (and if it was our old mate J I thank you), because I later heard them puzzling about how to insult the opposition without being gratuitously offensive to other groups. I suggested that toilet humour was universally acknowledged as taunting without marginalising anyone, because after all we do all have to sit down and shit. They appeared relieved that they had some space to manoeuvre.
The Tahs won the game on defence, pure and simple. The Sharks could hardly get a look in, apart from a snap field goal early on and a single converted try in the second half, compared to the Tahs’ two tries in each half and their late tactical field goal to take the score beyond a two-try margin as the clock ticked down the the final whistle. Tahs’ goal-kicker Kurtley Beale didn’t have the best of nights though, making only 1 from 4 conversion attempts, 1 from three penalty attempts, and 1 from 2 drop goal attempts. A couple of the conversion failures were understandable, being taken from horrendous angles, but he won’t be all that happy with himself compared to other matches he’s played. At least that final drop goal was a thing of beauty.
Not going to be a game to go down in the annals for the purity of its struggle, but a damned exciting match all the same.
One of the most thrilling moments involved the Sharks right on the try line, and the Tahs pushing them back and literally holding them up so they couldn’t ground the ball several times before finally managing to clear the ball back up the field. It’s rare to see a defence holding up that strong, and it’s a fine thing to see. We’ll be screaming ourselves hoarse somewhere next week watching the finals on a big screen, hoping they can do it again in Christchurch.
Categories: arts & entertainment