Putting aside a... questionable performace from Mr Williams (it's scary how badly a single extra game per week has exposed the lack of depth in ANZ refereeing stocks) it was a genuinely awful game, yet again lost through poor handling and lack of selfish leadership.
I'm over Ryan Louwrens as well. We can get away with him (although with our record, can we really) when Carter is there and playing flat fast to the line rugby, but his ability to get the ball away from the ruck within an advantageous amount of time is next to zero.
Not one senior player in our line up has any leadership qualities of substance. No ability to proactively engage with the ref and get them to view future 50/50s as 60/40s, no sense of building perceived pressure to keep the scoreboard ticking over while our defence is well on top, no ability to just tell the rest of the soft fuckers that we're going to win in an ugly manner and that those key individuals have to stand up and demand that responsibility.
Unfortunately this game is another example of one of rugbys big issues. The perceived superior team doesn’t have to work as hard to win as the team perceived to be weaker. It’s definitely not a NZ v Aus thing as we see the same within games against Aus teams. Now obviously the perceived team has earned the right through sustained success over time but you don’t just have to be the equal of your opposition, you have to be so much more because the rub of the green will go to the team the ref isn’t expecting the indiscretions to come from and are allowed to build momentum through looser lenses because the ref isn’t as diligently watching, whereas the lesser team is forensically officiated and has to be considerably more accurate.
Kudos to the Highlanders for the win in an ugly game.