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‘It’s pretty gutting’: Hurricanes captain’s raw reaction to ‘tough' semi defeat

By Finn Morton
Hurricanes players form a huddle during the Super Rugby Pacific Semi Final match between Hurricanes and Chiefs at Sky Stadium, on June 15, 2024, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The Hurricanes’ Super Rugby Pacific season is over. Brett Cameron was shown to be quite emotional on the post-game broadcast, and the playmaker wasn’t the only one hurting as the pain of the devastating missed opportunity began to sink in.

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While the Brumbies and Blues had beaten them during the regular season, the Hurricanes finished in pole position leading into the playoffs. They had home ground advantage and looked to make the most of that in knockout rugby.

Thousands of fans flocked to the ‘Cake Tin’ on Saturday as the Hurricanes prepared for a blockbuster semi-final clash with Kiwi rivals the Chiefs. But the visitor’s red-hot start seemed to stun the Wellingtonians and that was just the beginning.

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The Chiefs were just too good in the end as they booked their place in the big dance with a clinical 30-19 win. As for the Hurricanes, they’ll be left to wonder what could’ve been after a season that left fans daring to dream of their first title in eight years.

But for all the doom, frustration and sorrow that players, coaches and fans alike may be feeling in the wake of the 11-point defeat, there’s a reason to credit the year that was. The Canes took some positive steps forward in 2024 which bodes well for the future.

Match Summary

0
Penalty Goals
3
3
Tries
3
2
Conversions
3
0
Drop Goals
0
126
Carries
121
4
Line Breaks
6
22
Turnovers Lost
8
3
Turnovers Won
10

“We learnt different ways to win and we certainly showed a lot of connection off the field and I think we’re growing as a group, we’re growing as a club,” captain Brad Shields said on Sky Sport NZ’s coverage.

“After being away for so long it was a real pleasure to come back and see where the club is and how much work we’ve put in behind the scenes to take our squad to that next level.

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“I’m really proud of our efforts over the season but just really gutted we couldn’t get there tonight.

“The boy’s left it out there, I could see everyone’s intent was there and sometimes you just fall up a little bit short.”

The Chiefs took the Wellington crowd out of the contest quite literally from the start. They played with confidence and front-foot ball and were rewarded with one-Test All Black Samipeni Finau scoring the opener in the second minute.

Backrower Wallace Sititi broke the game open shortly after with a lengthy run up field before finding captain Luke Jacobson. Jacobson then got a pass off to Cortez Ratima who scored the Chiefs’ second try in the fifth minute.

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Almost suddenly, the visitors led 14-nil after just six minutes. As Hurricanes’ skipper Brad Shields later reflected, “It was a bit of a shock.”

Canes flanker Peter Lakai scored a much-needed five-pointer midway through the first term, and a yellow card to Finau only a few minutes later saw the Chiefs go down to 14 men. Momentum swung in the hosts’ favour quite drastically.

While the Hurricanes went on to score two tries to one after the break, and Chiefs captain Luke Jacobson was also sent to the sin bin, the goal-kicking accuracy of Damian McKenzie kept the Chiefs in a strong position.

It was their day. The Hurricanes’ season came to a close.

“Yeah, it’s pretty gutting. I think early on, the first two tries, the Chiefs got up, it was a bit of a shock I suppose,” Shields explained.

“A few last pass efforts for us, we left a little bit out there, unfortunately.

“We’re just really gutted because [when] we look back on our season, we’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved and put ourselves in a really good position. We just couldn’t get there tonight which is tough to take.

“We’ll reflect on that and have to move forward.

“We showed in that game, there was plenty of opportunity out there,” he added.

“We did the simple things well… pretty tough to take that, to be honest.”

In this episode of Walk the Talk, Jim Hamilton chats with double World Cup winner Damian de Allende about all things Springbok rugby, including RWC2023 and the upcoming Ireland series. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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