Joe Moody elbows Kurtley Beale in the jaw and scores moments later.
Joe Moody elbows Kurtley Beale in the jaw and scores moments later.

‘That’s a red card offence’: NZ referee helps Crusaders

"THAT'S a red card offence."

But despite Crusaders prop Joe Moody striking Kurtley Beale off the ball, square in the jaw with his elbow and scoring seconds later as the Waratah lay on the ground, the incident was somehow missed.

You'd have thought that someone would have seen the blatant strike, as Moody collected an inside ball from Richie Mo'unga, who took advantage of a gaping hole made possible by the hit from the All Black.

After all New Zealand referee Ben O'Keeffe was just metres away, New Zealand officials Jamie Nutbrown and Paul Williams were running the touchline and New Zealander Aaron Paterson was in the TMO chair.

You might have even thought the incident would have been picked up from the crowd with pictures almost always shown on the big projector screens at the ground.

But with the host New Zealand broadcasters choosing what is shown and what is not, it's perhaps no surprise the replay wasn't broadcast.

You might have even thought that Beale, the man impeded, would have spoken with O'Keeffe and asked him to take a look.

But he was lying flat on his back and was fortunate not to have a broken jaw.

Before that controversial moment, the Waratahs were leading the Crusaders 29-0 after 34 minutes.

But instead of a penalty being awarded to the Waratahs and the Test loose-head spending the rest of the match on the sidelines, the try - without an eyelid battered or a murmur from the crowd - was awarded immediately to Moody.

With the momentum now on their side, the Crusaders went on to score another two tries in quick succession to reduce the deficit to 29-19 at halftime.

Even if it wasn't high, as former Wallabies captain George Gregan later said on Fox Sports' coverage: "That's in front of the ball, he shouldn't be in front of the ball.

"He shouldn't be taking a man out with his elbow to throat and he ends up becoming the tryscorer."

Let's not forget that no Australian Super Rugby side had beaten New Zealand opposition in 38 matches, and the amount of good a win would have done for the game.

At the start of 2018, SANZAAR made it crystal clear that any contact to the head was going to be stamped out.

The Crusaders have recalled All Black Joe Moody to their line-up for Saturday's sem-final against the Hurricanes.
The Crusaders have recalled All Black Joe Moody to their line-up for Saturday's sem-final against the Hurricanes.

"You can't have any grey areas with this, it's pretty black and white and we'll continue to be vigilant," SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos told the Daily Telegraph, after Reds captain Scott Higginbotham was sent off inside the opening 10 minutes of their first match against the Rebels.

"It comes down to player welfare and safety.

"It really came into focus during last year's Super Rugby season, we saw numerous cards and suspensions particularly around contact with the head.

"We've got to stamp it out.

"There was a very clear message sent to players and coaches this pre-season.

"While sometimes viewers think 'it wasn't that bad', one doesn't know what the repercussions of a headknock can be. You could have delayed effects that can be very serious.

"We're going to continue to be direct and decisive in regards to protecting the head."

Ludicrously though, those same words haven't been backed up by action since the Higginbotham send off.

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The Waratahs won't blame the referee.

After all their discipline in the second half was poor and Bernard Foley missed two penalties, including one in the 77th minute which would have put the Waratahs in front.

But they can feel hard done by with the Moody incident, particularly as they later had

Nick Phipps and Taqele Naiyaravoro yellow carded for hands in the ruck and a deliberate knock on.

"That's an elbow to the throat of a player unprotected," former Wallaby and Fox Sports pundit Rod Kafer said of the Moody incident.

"It's a red card offence.

"The try shouldn't have been scored, guy should not be on the field.

"When we talk about disparity of the game, when you miss those things it does start to get a little bit tough."

Another former Wallaby, Stephen Hoiles, was mystified why Paterson missed the blatant high shot

"There's also a TMO," Hoiles said on Fox Sports.

"That's his job to check when the try has been scored, for any foul play.

"He (Moody) is going to miss some games. (I'm) absolutely certain he'll have to get suspended from that act.

"It's a high shot, but it's a cheap shot."

The Moody hit wasn't the only controversial incident missed by officials.

With the fulltime siren blaring in the background and with the Waratahs in possession close to halfway, All Black hopeful Jack Goodhue blatantly lifted Michael Wells above the horizontal, before the Crusaders turned over possession and kicked the ball out to end the game.

At the time, O'Keeffe and his sideline official appeared to be in perfect position to see the tackle.

Additionally, Waratahs captain Michael Hooper clearly informed O'Keeffe about the tackle and asked him to check with the TMO (see the video above).

His inquiry was ignored.

"The worst part about this was you could hear Michael Hooper in the game on the ground say 'tip tackle, sir'," Hoiles said.

"And then post ruck he said 'can you check that' and he was ignored.

"I'm not going to say that Bernard Foley is going to kick that because he missed two sitters before that, but they should have had a penalty on the bell with another chance to win it.

"I don't like the fact when a captain has shown respect, he doesn't harass him all game and he asks for something to be looked at.

"You could see the Crusader's hands were in the air, he knows he's given away a penalty there.

"It's a penalty every day of the week."