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25th May 2019

Nigel Owens accused of ‘bottling’ massive Rob Kearney decision

Patrick McCarry

66 minutes into the Guinness PRO14 final and a huge moment in the game

Leinster were 18-10 ahead but Glasgow Warriors had just turned the ball over after surviving a storm.

Glasgow made a clearing kick and Rob Kearney chased back before pumping an up-and-under back into the opposition half. Up soared Stuart Hogg, not for the first time, and he claimed the take before, a split-second later, Kearney arrived.

Hogg was sent hurtling, uncontrolled, to the deck and his landing looked awful. Medics rushed on and a brawl ensued, with most of the starting XVs getting involved.

Stuart Hogg of Glasgow Warriors is tackled by Rob Kearney during the Guinness PRO14 Final. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile)

Glasgow fans screamed for a red card and slow-motion replays only increased their ire and collective noise.

One first, second and third glimpse, the collision looked bad and Kearney was in danger of being shown a straight red card.

Referee Nigel Owens looked at a couple more replays and, with Hogg landing on his shoulder and not head, appeared to make his mind up.

There were a brief few words with the TMO before Owens turned to Kearney and said:

“You’re careless, you got your timing wrong and it is a yellow card. Off you go.”

Kearney returned for the final five minutes of the game as Leinster held on to win 18-15, and claim another league title.

In the post-match analysis on eir Sport, former Leinster star Luke Fitzgerald stated that the wrong colour of card had been flashed.

“I think it is a red card,” he said, “and Leinster might have got away with one.”

Over on social media, few were disagreeing and Owens was accused of “bottling” a big call.

The Glasgow fans were howling for calls all night, but they could have had a case over the Kearney incident.