Gardner in frame to control Super Rugby final

Super Rugby
by staff

Aussie whistleblower Angus Gardner is firming to be the man in the middle to control the Super Rugby final between the Lions and the Crusaders, reports in New Zealand suggest.

The Hurricanes were unhappy with several of South African referee Jaco Peyper's decisions in the second half of their loss to the Lions at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday, the most contentious of those being the sin-binning of flyhalf Beauden Barrett for interference at the breakdown in the 58th minute.

If a neutral option is the way SANZAAR bosses go then Gardner is the man.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said in the wake of their loss that the three best referees in the tournament had been Peyper, Kiwi Glen Jackson and Gardner, and that they probably hadn't been utilised to best effect at the weekend.

"It's an interesting question," Boyd pondered post match.

"We shouldn't need to do that but at the end of the day, whether it's sub-conscious or it's just a style, the Kiwi referees will get used to the New Zealand style and the African referees the African style and the Aussie referees the Australian style.

"I think it'll be interesting around that space.

"To me, there's three clearly dominant referees in SANZAAR at the moment and I think they probably could've used all three in a slightly different way."

The Crusaders are already in the air on their way to South Africa but there are question marks over the fitness of skipper Kieran Read and tighthead prop Owen Franks.

Read tweaked a knee in the final moments of the semi-final win over the Chiefs but the Crusaders medical staff feel that it was worth him travelling to Johannesburg, while Franks was replaced at halftime when his nagging Achilles tendon started to ache.

Boyd fell in line behind the Crusaders to get the job done though when he added: "They [the Lions] opened up pretty easily in the first 20 minutes; we created five or six clear, and fairly simplistic, opportunities and I think the Crusaders can do that as well.

"That was a physical battle, that Chiefs-Crusaders one, and the Crusaders had to get through a lot of work defensively and I'd say that they'd be out on their feet a little bit." - Chris Boyd.

"It's not a bridge too far for them but it's going to be a big challenge and probably the number of [All Blacks] forwards in their forward pack is potentially going to stand them in reasonable stead."

The Crusaders were only able to grab a paltry 33 percent of possession and will have to improve on that if they are to get anywhere near the Lions on their home deck. 

Their kicking game will have to be on point too as the Hurricanes kept the Lions in the game with a kicking game that invited the home team's back three back into the game constantly.