Sunday, 21 April 2013

Unfathomable umpiring call a concern in ANZ competition

If ever there was justification for a fresh look at umpiring, last night's call against the Pulse's Katrina Grant was that justification.

True, the Pulse had plenty of opportunities to win the game earlier, and made too many unforced errors all through court. But shooters Caitlin Thwaites and Donna Wilkins scored well, with adept feeding by Liana Leota. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Grant defended with flair. Unless the TV feed lied in the last seconds of the 4th quarter, Katrina Grant took a clean intercept. Cathrine Latu then (it seemed unnecessarily) bumped into Grant, and next the umpire(s?) penalised Grant for pushing Latu in the back. I have watched the game tape over and over. If anyone should have been penalised , it seems Latu should have been.  But by then the game would've been over; a narrow squeak victory to the Pulse. Instead the game went into extra time.

The Mystics went on to win 69-68. At least the game was positive for them. Gifted defender Kayla Cullen, has usually been given the centre role when she's a natural defence player. The last part of last night's game saw her relocated to wing defence, with Elisapeta Toeava at wing attack and Grace Rasmussen at centre. Maria Tutaia's facility to shoot from distance was also handy, while defence work by Julie Corletto throughout the game, and Jess Moulds in the latter part cemented a good Mystics effort. This combination performed substantially better than we've seen so far this season. Perhaps we might even get to see Bailey Mes sometime.

I think there'd be a bad taste in the mouth though for those who saw the televised link, or were close enough to see what occurred. Perhaps netball should do what high-level hockey has done and institute a system whereby cameras are reviewed for contentious decisions. It was obvious that Grant was trying to put her case briefly to the umpire. Umpiring is a difficult job, but the netballers and their fans deserve an explanation of some kind, especially since players themselves are not allowed to comment. There has to be some kind of appeal system in a situation like this.

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