Aw, C’mon Ref!

Henry Perenara blows his whistle and a cacophony of boos ring around Mt Smart Stadium, around Penrose and throughout the great country of Aotearoa. C’mon Henry, what’s going on? Have you forgotten who the home team is? Or, more importantly, have you forgotten the rules?

Couldn’t you hear us, Henry? I’m sure you must have. There were 16,000 of us, yelling, screaming. Some even said some things I don’t dare repeat. We were only trying to help you, Henry. We just wanted to make sure you made the right decision.

It’s understandable to be confused sometimes. We’ve all been there at some stage. Life is not always as it seems. It’s a challenge when our eyes deceive us and the world seems impossible to explain. Sometimes raindrops fall from a sunny sky and you can’t see a dark cloud anywhere. Or you’re halfway through an M&M’s packet and realise you haven’t had a single red one yet, so there must be one coming soon, because there’s a picture of a red one on the packaging, but then you get to the last few and no red ever comes.

But these incidents are isolated events, unusual, inexplicable occurrences that only become more confusing the more you think about them. One can only assume they are statistical anomalies created by the constant crash and bash of random particles within a universe bigger than we can realistically fathom. It’s a wonderful and terrible world, Henry, both fascinating and monotonous, cruel and kind, filled with love and hate. It’s a world that can be impossible to navigate, to understand.

Are we in the Matrix? On The Truman Show? How can we ever know with absolute certainty, Henry? So I find the only way to make it through the day is to believe what I see before me, not to overcomplicate things, to simply trust that what I am seeing is an accurate interpretation of what is going on. I have to believe that the simplest explanation is generally the right one. So, Henry, when it looks like a tackle around the legs, that’s all it is. Occam’s razor, my friend, Occam’s razor.

And, Henry, when the game is tied and it looks like a knock-on, sometimes you just have to blow the whistle. Even if the ball did go backwards, you call it because it just didn’t look right — perception is reality, Henry — and 16,000 people yelled ‘Knock-on!’ at the same time — are you disagreeing with 32,000 eyes? Those people deserved your whistle, Henry. They’ve been starved of success, so much so that they gave a 12–4 halftime deficit a standing ovation, because they just need a win, and the men from Mt Smart actually did fight harder than they’ve fought for a long time, a very long time, so the least you could do was blow your whistle when it actually suited them, to give the people hope, Henry. Because we need to cheer and stand and clap. There’s a sense of urgency now, Henry. We can still be Warriors Proud but we need to get a win, if only to end that losing streak and move on with our lives.

Am I being unreasonable, Henry? Is it really that crazy to think you might have given us the rub of the green? I’m not asking for your pity, Henry, but do you realise we have now lost eleven straight games? C’mon, Henry, what’s a few home-town decisions between friends?

Set of Six

1) Can’t you tackle around the legs anymore? Feel free to try and convince me otherwise, but how can James Gavet tackling Cameron Munster one-on-one around the legs be a penalty? Yes, it looked awkward, and yes, Munster was hurt by the tackle, but how can that be illegal? I’m still confused. At least sanity has prevailed at the judiciary.

2) As frustrating as the refereeing was at times, it’s hard to argue it decided the game. The Warriors had plenty of chances to win, but the Storm finished stronger when the match was on the line and, ultimately, did enough to leave Mt Smart with the two points. In those vital moments, the Warriors unfortunately looked like a team not quite sure how to win.

3) The Warriors’ issues on defence have been regularly chronicled, but is the real issue with the attack? Whether it is still down to combinations not quite clicking or something else, the lack of players in motion on attack is starting to feel like a serious concern. This could not have been more apparent against a Melbourne side who constantly have players running through the defensive line, both inside and outside the ball-carrier to cause confusion. The Warriors, on the other hand, rarely even have two players going forward in a bunch. So far in 2016, barring the first half against the Tigers, we’ve seen a relatively disciplined Warriors side with ball in hand, but it is time to back ourselves a little more?

4) Are the Warriors forwards working hard enough? It’s a question I don’t have an answer to, but it when it gets to the last 15 minutes of the game and the outside backs are taking the majority of the hit-ups (16 to 8 in the last 15 minutes, and Ryan Hoffman is responsible for probably half of those 8 hit-ups by a forward), something seems a little off. I can understand this when the outside backs are your strongest ball-runners, the likes of Vatuvei, Maumalo, Hurrell, but should that really be the game-plan when you have Tui Lolohea and Jonathan Wright coming in off the wing?

5) A loss is a loss but, for the most part, the effort was pleasing. As much as it felt like an opportunity missed, I think Warrior Nation can live with losing a close game to a clinical Storm side when they witness the men from Mt Smart fighting hard, scrambling on defence and displaying passion and a real desire to win. You’d expect those characteristics to be non-negotiables for any team, but unfortunately they’ve been missing for long periods during this losing streak and to see them return provides hope.

6) Regardless of the result, wasn’t it great to be back home? Mt Smart Stadium may not be the flashest facility in the NRL, but it is a superb place to watch rugby league, especially when the crowd is vocal and heavily involved. All we need now is a few wins to get the place really rocking!

Match Highlights

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