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Watch: 'Fairness' of Willi Heinz's sneaky try questioned

By Ned Lester
Willi Heinz celebrates a try for the Crusaders. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

A tight contest in Queensland concluded Friday night with a Crusaders win that extended their dominant run over the Reds, one that has reigned since the famous 2011 Super Rugby final.

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It was an untidy match, handling errors and ill-discipline intervened regularly and one of the biggest talking points to come out of the contest was an unorthodox play that resulted in seven points for the visitors.

A try from former England international Willi Heinz in the 54th minute pushed the defending champions’ lead to 22-7. The whistle from referee Damon Murphy was met with confusion from both the commentary team and the opposing players as the ball was called short initially on the leg drive by Tamaiti Williams, but placed on the try line by the quick-thinking halfback without leaving the ruck.

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While the ball was placed on the line, Australian pundits took another look at the play postgame and had questions over whether such play should be legal.

“It’s a bit of curiosity on this one, promoting the ball forward through the back of a ruck,” Justin Harrison said on Stan Sport.

“We just think that there could be a possibility of an obstruction rule or that you have to clear it from the ruck before you’re able to then promote it back into the play because that’s an interesting ruling, isn’t it?”

Former Reds captain James Horwill joined the panel after the match and contributed his thoughts.

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“You look at it from a fairness point of view. There’s nothing actually the Reds can do legally to stop that happening,” Horwill said.

“So, is there a way that that should be allowed? I’m not sure.

“It’s good game management from Willi Heinz, who I thought when he came on was really good, you know, understands the laws of the game but, you know, the fairness and is it something that they might look at it from the referees?”

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Harrison went on to agree that the play could warrant a review from Super Rugby lawmakers.

“Well, we’ve seen it before when players have taken the ball back in there and not grounded it properly and then an opposing player has reached over and dotted it down,” Harrison said.

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“We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about ball is held with someone else. He’s on the ground, no longer able to promote it in either direction. Then someone comes from behind, joins the ruck and then promotes it through the very same ruck. It’s going to be one that the judicial system I’m sure are going to look at.”

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Jon 2 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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