Halai framed by slow-mo film

Frank Halai (left) knocks the ball dead before Julian Savea can lay a hand on it. A play that led to a controversial penalty try and sin-binning for Halai.
Frank Halai (left) knocks the ball dead before Julian Savea can lay a hand on it. A play that led to a controversial penalty try and sin-binning for Halai.

Technological lunacy took place during the Hurricanes-Blues rugby match at Wellington on Saturday night.

Back in the day, as in when we watched rugger with naked eyes, there wouldn't have been any sanction when Canes wing Julian Savea and Blues wing Frank Halai went for the ball at speed as it crossed the tryline.

But now when moves are slowed down to 45 frames a second, all sorts of incongruities are being unearthed.

In slo-mo, Vinny Munro, up in the video ref's box, claimed Halai batted the ball back over the tryline and out of Savea's reach. Maybe so, but the punishment was outrageous.

Yes, a penalty try was ruled - as in seven points - and Halai was binned. Why didn't the officials take him outside and put him up before a firing squad and be done with it?

For a start, there was no certainty that Savea would have scored a try. Halai was still there impeding Savea and he might have headed the ball, as former Manawatu fullback Francisco Bosch was wont to do.

Having watched it many times, the two men were shoulder to shoulder at high speed, and both were lunging for the ball. Halai did well to get his left hand on it, and then it went dead, but not necessarily deliberately.

There is no reason why rugby shouldn't adopt the rugby league rule and allow the ball to be batted away. It would still give a prime scrum to the attacking side.

So when the Blues recovered from these horrors, it was almost justice that they came back to win the game.

But slow down many try-scoring actions far enough and you can see anything; Ben Smith's lunging try against the Chiefs on Friday would probably have shown separation between his hand and the ball.

By the way, wonder what the All Black triumvirate thought of Smith being stood up cold by stand-in Chiefs centre Tim Nanai-Williams on Friday night. Smith has been cover for wing and fullback in the black jersey.

Technology and the umpires didn't save Ross Taylor in the one-dayer against England at Eden Park.

He was given out on the basis that the umpire heard a noise roughly when the ball passed the bat.

Taylor went for a referral and apparently evidence had to be produced that the dismissal call was wrong.

Still, we had the mysterious noise, whatever it was. It could have been a fielder clicking his fingers, and that happens.

There was no evidence visually, on hot spot or snicker, that ball had clipped bat, but that wasn't enough. In that case, toss out the technology.

It was a vital decision because New Zealand doesn't have many other players who can bat.

■ Manawatu batsmen have been scoring runs all over the show in club cricket in recent weekends.

If only those runs were forthcoming when Manawatu lost the Hawke Cup challenge to Bay of Plenty at Mt Maunganui three weeks ago. It was equally galling to see the ease with which BOP batted away Canterbury Country's meek challenge last weekend.

■ So Argo was the best movie of the year according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

No way was it superior to two I saw, Lincoln and Les Miserables, and probably even Zero Dark Thirty.

But what do we in Palmy know? Perhaps we should stop using the Oscars as a template of quality.

Since 2009 we have had the outstanding Slumdog Millionaire and The King's Speech win the big one. But among them we have also had The Hurt Locker which didn't have much of a plot, The Artist (silent for heaven's sake) and now Argo, all in the dodgy category. Argo was very American about a fake Hollywood film and got one over the naughty Iranians, via the Canadians. It couldn't miss, really!

Manawatu Standard