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Referee Berry leaves bitter after taste for Reds

Referee Stuart Berry has overseen two controversial Lions victories in as many weeks

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Article Published: Saturday 22 March 2014|

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The Reds were left seething after their 23-20 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg South Africa in which they were reduced to 13 men in the final minutes by Referee Stuart Berry.

The Lions won their second match in Johannesburg in as many weeks under the officiating of Referee Berry and TMO Johan Greeff and again the match ended in controversy.

Ironically Berry was in charge of the second promotion/relegation match at Ellis Park last year in which the Lions regained their Super Rugby status.

Earlier in the week SANZAR admitted that the two officials got it wrong against the Blues when they awarded a try to the Lions when a knock on should have been awarded.

Despite the admission the pair were retained for a second week and unsurprisingly again the visiting team left Ellis Park with the feeling that they had been robbed by the referee.

Referee Berry ran the first half without any real complaints from either side but the second half was an entirely different matter as he dominated proceedings blowing the Reds up for incident after incident.

With the Lions trailing by two converted tries in the final 15 minutes Berry blew penalty after penalty against the Reds and advantage after advantage to the Lions who were seemingly playing mistake free rugby in Berry's eyes.

With the Reds leading Berry's penalty count went 10-1 against the Reds which allowed the Lions to overtake the visitors on the scoreboard and snatch the victory out from under the Queenslanders.

The Reds were savaged 19-4 in the penalty count which left coach Richard Graham boiling after the contest.

"We lead 20-6 at halftime, which means we are the team going forward, and the penalty count is 9-3 against us?" fumed Graham after the match.

"I'm struggling to understand this. But what can you do. The game's gone. If I say anything now I look like a bad loser," he told the Australian.

Graham said the team would need to bounce back from the disappointing result.

"At 20-6 at half time I thought we had positioned ourselves well to go on with the game," Graham said.

"However, we were on the wrong end of the penalty count, at 19-4, and the two yellow cards hurt us."

"I thought we showed a tremendous amount of character when defending our line, but I am frustrated with the result."

"We're looking forward to returning home to our Fortress, Suncorp Stadium for a run of three home games. It has been a tough start to the season, with four of our first five games on the road, so it will be good to get back to Brisbane and focus on the Stormers."

Three minutes from full time and with the Reds down to 13 men but still leading by four points the Lions opted for a line out following a raft of penalties in their favour.

The throw looked to be skew towards the Lions and but play continued and two phases later the Lions winger Courtnall Skosan was awarded what turned out to be the match winning try.

Horwill wasted no time in asking Berry to review the line out but he said he was happy with it and then Berry and the TMO reached the decision that Skosan had scored a try even through TMO Greef said there was no conclusive evidence as there was no clear view of the ball being grounded.

Earlier in the match Berry was willing to go back two phases to look for a Reds knock on and disallowed a try by Dom Shipperley.

Fans from South Africa and Australia alike took to social media platforms slamming Berry's performance and pleading for him to go back and review his own performance.

One fan on Facebook said,"it's just a pity that South Africa has got poor refs. Lions Reds game ref was some of the poorest refereeing I have seen. It just makes us look bad."

Another said, "Absolutely atrocious refereeing... need to go back to neutral refs surely?!?!"

Referees Boss Lyndon Bray announced on Friday that SANZAR will be conducting a purge of referees in the coming weeks and on the evidence of the last two weeks Berry will no doubt be going on extended leave.

Sadly if he does it still won't help Graham's Reds team or Sir John Kirwans Blues as the results will stand and the Lions won't be stripped of their points.

 
 
 
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