Dodgy SCG surface shut down Reds scrum threat: Thorn

Super Rugby
by Iain Payten

Queensland coach Brad Thorn expressed his disappointment in the surface of the Sydney Cricket Ground and said it shut down the advantage of the powerhouse Reds scrum.

The return of the Waratahs to the iconic SCG saw a NSW win but the night was marred by the plush surface constantly being dug up underneath the boots of the players during scrums, rucks and mauls.

Softened up by rain during the day, potentially dangerous sandy holes were exposed in the turf and SCG groundsmen were repeatedly forced to come onto the ground to put the huge divots back into place; mostly after scrums.

Play was even held up by the referee in the second half for ground staff to push the chopped-up turf back down with flat tools.

Thorn was disappointed his heavyweight forward pack, who came into the match with a 40 kilogram advantage over the NSW pack, weren’t able to ram home their power due to the surface.

"It just shut it down didn’t it?” Thorn said post-match.

"It’s professional sport. Rugby grounds, there is a lot of running around but with the mauling and the scrummaging, the ground is pretty important. That was disappointing.

"It just didn’t have any strength to it."

Reds captain Samu Kerevi said he didn’t want to use the surface as an excuse for the defeat but agreed with his coach that they lost the advantage of their big pack.

"Like Thorny said we have a pretty strong scrum and wanted to utilise it tonight but the surface didn’t help us,” Kerevi said.

"On top of that, it is not an excuse. Good surface or no good, whatever. That game was on us as a playing group. The coaches had a good game plan for us, we didn’t execute.”

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said he was sure NSW Rugby and SCG Trust officials would discuss how to ensure the surface issues were fixed ahead of their next game at the venue in a fortnight against the Crusaders.

"It’s hard to gauge what impact that had, in terms of the scrum and how it played out, but it is certainly something I am sure the powers to be will look at and how it is rectified for the next game,” Gibson said.

Asked if there was any chance the Waratahs might not play the SCG for the Crusaders game, Gibson said: "I don’t think that has been brought in. We are loving the fact we are playing around the state. It is such an iconic ground, it is a real thrill to play here."

Waratahs vice-captain Bernard Foley said he wasn’t too worried about getting injured by tripping in a divot.

"I am not packing down in scrums so it sort of didn’t affect me too much,” Foley said.