Waratahs lose big lead – Crusaders lose Joe Moody to Suspension

Waratahs lose big lead to Crusaders, as Joe Moody is Cited
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 12: Richie Mo'unga of the Crusaders charges forward during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Waratahs at AMI Stadium on May 12, 2018 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

‘How on earth did they do that?’ Those were some of the statements and conclusions, after an 80 minute rugby match where the much talked of ‘streak’ could have been broken. A massive early lead, but one badly lost as the Crusaders stormed back to claim the victory: 31-29. However, as Joe Moody is suspended by SANZAAR, the focus has moved from ‘how could they’ to how could he?.

It proved to be the ‘great escape’ and showed the true grit of the Crusaders. But, post-match reaction has been corrupted. First by the mix of desolation by Waratahs fans; very much in opposite to the elation and relief of the Crusaders. But by 8:58am the following morning, the second stage of the reaction began. With SANZAAR citing of Joe Moody after footage emerged of suspected foul play.

It then snowballed, as the urgently arranged Judiciary meeting was held on Sunday night. And by Monday morning, the players fate was sealed; a two match suspension for Foul Play.

Waratahs lose big lead – Crusaders lose Joe Moody to Suspension

On the field, the ebb-and-flow of the game  was intense. A surge in points, with four tries scored in succession by the visitors, that brought the home town crowd to silence. Fans could not believe the advantage that Michael Foley and his side were amounting.

Aided by a floored strategy of kicking deep, which only provided the Waratahs with time and space. Once the line of defense was broken, then the likes of Cameron Clark, Israel Folau, big Taqele Naiyaravoro and finally Curtis Rona, all benefited. They were not superior but they found the bounce of the ball went their way – and they played on their luck.

It took the Crusaders 34 minutes to redress that scoreline, but once three tries in the final six minutes of the half were gained, it was a dramatic resurrection. And while the next 40 minutes were as difficult as your normal CRUvWAR battle, it still resulted in the usual outcome. Crusaders winning on home soil, and the visitors wondering how it all went so wrong.

But one moment has now been re-examined in finer detail, post-game.

First half act by Joe Moody sanctioned for foul play

Scrutiny targeted the off-the-ball actions of Joe Moody. You see Moody looking toward Kurtley Beale, and he strangely reaches out and makes contact with Beale. The Waratahs second-five falls, which is taken advantage of by Mo’unga. With Beale levelled, he cannot defend and that allows a two-on-one for Moody to subsequently benefit from. He scored under the posts, and the incredible comeback win began.

In the SANZAAR statement Sunday morning, Matthew Barlow; the SANZAAR Competitions Manager, states that ‘Moody is alleged to have contravened Law 9.12 Dangerous Play – Striking with the Arm, during the match between the Crusaders and Waratahs at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on 12 May 2018′.

The Case was considered by the SANZAAR Foul Play Review Committee which took place on Sunday night (NZT). Moody was interviewed, evidence given, and then considered.

In a media release, the SANZAAR Foul Play Review Committee ‘has accepted a guilty plea from Joe Moody of the Crusaders for contravening Law 9.12: Striking with hand or arm, after he was Cited during a Super Rugby Match at the Weekend’.

Moody has been suspended from all forms of the game for two matches: up to and including Friday 25 May 2018.

While the punishment handed out is rightly justified, the calls of cheating and dirty tactics have taken on a more distasteful connotation.

Crusaders player accused of being ‘Dirty

From the outset, different groups of supporters and commentators began to form arguments. Few can defend the action, but the intention and severity of outcry has ranged from condemnation, to character assassination.

Some have called the individual a cheat. Others have further pointed to the team, and their tactics. That is uncalled for, with zero evidence of a ‘dirty’ culture existing at the current Super Rugby champions franchise.

So with the outcome of suspension resulting in the player sitting out two games, the competition organizers would hope that would be the end of the matter. Sadly, something in the bitter rivalry between NZ and Aussie rugby teams tells me ‘this is far from over’.

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