Cheetahs 24-26 British & Irish Lions
Ferris frustrated by referee Barnes
June 7, 2009
Lions flanker Stephen Ferris was given his marching orders in the first half of the victory over the Cheetahs © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions flanker Stephen Ferris slammed English referee Wayne Barnes following the tourists' narrow 26-24 victory over the Cheetahs at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein.
Ferris claimed the man-of-the-match honour in the Lions third tour game after an accomplished display that included his second try in two games but it was soured by a first-half yellow card.
The 23-year-old Ulster blindside was sent to the sin-bin for blatantly killing the ball at a ruck but Ferris was disappointed with the decision and the overall game management of Barnes.
"There were lots of bodies flying in from everywhere and I couldn't really get away," said Ferris. "I think it was the first penalty we gave away in our own half and Barnes has given me a yellow card which I thought was harsh.
"I think the referee was pretty hard on us the whole game. He didn't give us much, every time we went to steal the ball it seemed like we didn't get anything and when they went to steal the ball they seemed to come away with it."
"I think the breakdown was very badly refereed. For us it was completely different too what it was for the Cheetahs, but they played the referee very well and their No.6 [Heinrich Brussow], my opposite number was very good on the ground but seemed to get away with murder. He got away with a lot of things that I thought were penalties."
Despite becoming the Lions' first player to see yellow on this tour, Ferris was happy with his own performance including his opportunistic try.
"I was happy with my defensive work, and with ball in hand I felt pretty strong and I was also able to get a bit of go forward. As for the try it was a case of de ja vu with the try, it just popped out and the scrum-half didn't seem to know where it was. It was just a bit of good fortune really, I managed to pick it up and go straight in for another one - I'll take that any day."
Ferris is braced for a backlash after the Lions failed to dominate a game that they led 20-0 midway through the first half but insists team morale remains high.
"That's three out of three, but I am sure everybody will be jumping on our backs this week saying how it wasn't a great performance. A bit more composure, grit and determination and we could have gone on and put some more points on them but fair play to the Cheetahs, they are a good side with a lot of capped players and experience in there, we were always going to be in for a tough day.
"I think everyone is slightly disappointed with the result especially after the way we played in the first 20 minutes. We tried to keep it going I don't think I helped things personally getting the yellow card. Even after that we should have kicked on and tried to put them away. The spirit in the camp is great, but they were the most physical side we have played yet."
Ferris had a good view of the last-gasp drop goal attempt from the Cheetahs' Louis Strydom that could have ensured an historic victory for the hosts - luckily for the Lions it drifted wide of the posts
"The drop goal was very, very close," recalled Ferris. "Fair play to the guy, he struck it really well. It started quite wide but came in and finished maybe a foot or two feet wide. But if it had gone over I would have had confidence in the team that we would have gone up and got here points for ourselves."
Despite the Lions' victory, Ferris' sense of disappointment was clear as the battle for Test jerseys intensifies.
"You just look at the guys within the squad what they've won, world players of the year, so many cups won within the team and high standards set," he said. "If you don't meet them week in week out then some of the guys are going to be disappointed.
"If we had played really well and won by a couple of points it would be OK but we didn't play that well for 40 or 50 minutes of that game. A couple of soft tries in the first half, but we'll bounce on, three wins from three ad hopeful we'll keep this winning streak going."