Coach questions TMO decision in Blues loss

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 13:47 16/03/2014

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Blues coach Sir John Kirwan will ask Sanzar referees' boss Lyndon Bray to please explain following a controversial TMO decision in his side's 39-36 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg this morning.

Bray may find it difficult to argue with Kirwan, who labelled the decision to award a pivotal try to Lions fullback Coenie van Wyk "wrong".

After giving up a 23-point lead, the Blues launched a stirring second-half comeback with five tries in 30 minutes to display their firepower.

But the defeat saw them slump to a 1-3 record and only take two points away from their South African venture.  

Kirwan lamented two costly yellow cards - to prop Charlie Faumuina and lock Tom Donnelly - but also felt the TMO decision came at a crucial time in the frenetic match.

With the Blues down 23-15, Charles Piutau seemed to force Lions centre Deon van Rensburg to knock the ball on five-metres out from the line, only for the third match official to rule the Blues utility had knocked the ball back, allowing van Wyk's try to stand.

"Playing with 14 men is tough, then the TMO call was wrong," Kirwan said today.

"There's calls that are going against us but we're not helping ourselves by not being in the game earlier.

"The TMO call was interesting at the best. It's general play. I'll be asking Lyndon Bray for a very strong verification. It came at a critical time when we were starting to flow. That's disappointing.

"Last week [against the Bulls] there was a double movement and they came back to us and said they got it wrong.

"Three weekends in a row we've had calls that have gone against us. It's frustrating and today was particularly frustrating because we'd got back into the game and we were on a roll."

Ultimately, though, the Blues have only themselves to blame. Giving away two yellow cards forced them to play for 60 minutes with 14-men and the failure to score points until the 46th minute left them too much ground to make up.

Kirwan was pleased with Benji Marshall's first start at fullback. The star recruit scored the final try, where he beat three defenders, and delivered the last pass for Frank Halai's try. He had one clearing kick charged, which cost his side three points, and was otherwise tentative, as expected.

"He did some real good things. I was happy with him," Kirwan said. "He's still learning the game positionally but he did some real special things."

Impressive Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu suffered a leg injury which will be assessed further on arrival in Auckland. 

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- Fairfax Media

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