‘We have to live with it’ – Kearney gets yellow for collision with Hogg

Murray Kinsella reports from Celtic Park

TIME ALWAYS SEEMS to slow down when collisions like Rob Kearney’s with Stuart Hogg in the 66th minute of the Guinness Pro14 final in Glasgow occur.

The Leinster fullback did get off the ground as he chased his own garryowen but he collided with Hogg’s legs after the Glasgow 15 had outleaped him to claim the ball. 

Hogg rotated in the air and came down on his side, although the replays arguably show the Scotland star’s head glancing off the turf.

Rob Kearney challenges Stuart Hogg at Celtic Park. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Glasgow fans, not for the first time in the game, aggressively booed and called for a red card but, after a TMO review, Nigel Owen opted for yellow and Kearney had a chance to return in the closing minutes.

Would a sending off really have made a major difference to the outcome of the final? It’s impossible to know for certain but the momentum of a red-card decision might have shifted a tight battle into Glasgow’s favour, while they obviously would have only had 14 players to play against in the closing four minutes after Grant Stewart’s try had brought them back within three points. Perhaps most importantly, Hogg was forced off.

“Those decisions seem different every time you see a game,” said Glasgow boss Dave Rennie after his side’s 18-15 defeat. “The telling thing for us is that we lost Hoggy at the same time.

“The officials made their decision and we have to live with it.”

Rennie reported that Hogg had suffered “a loss of vision” as a result of Kearney’s challenge and that Hogg “felt like he was going to spew and something else.”

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He didn’t return to the pitch after being replaced by Huw Jones. Though clearly frustrated, Rennie refused to be directly critical of Owens. 

“I’m not going to comment,” said Rennie. “One week the ref says red, the other it’s a yellow, and the next it’s play on.”

Leinster boss Leo Cullen, meanwhile, admitted that it could have been a decisive moment in the contest.

“The yellow card to Rob could have been costly to us,” said Cullen. “When he’s chasing, his eyes are on the ball, you have a collision in the air, and you have to deal with the consequences of what the referee deemed on the day.”

Hogg didn’t return for the closing 15 minutes. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Cullen did refer to other incidents in the first half that could have been refereed differently, most likely hinting at Fraser Brown’s off-the-ball hit on Luke McGrath that brought a penalty, when many Leinster fans felt it should have been a yellow card.

Those Owens decisions were among the many fascinating moments that made up an entertaining Pro14 final in the rain at Celtic Park in front of a raucous record crowd of 47,128.

Fortunately for Leinster, they edged enough of them to claim their sixth Pro14 title and go back-to-back in this competition.

“When the weather came in, it was case of who would adapt the best,” said Leinster captain Johnny Sexton.

“We made a few errors, it wasn’t perfect from us. There were lots of things in the game that could have been better but I suppose one of the things that we said after the Sarries game is we don’t have to win every moment.

“We just have to win more than the opposition, that’s what we did today. We just won a couple of more moments than them.”

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