Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall is just thankful his side were able to come away with a 32-22 victory over the Highlanders in Christchurch on Sunday to clinch the Super Rugby Aotearoa title.
Thankful because had his teammates not rallied together to overturn the 17-13 half-time deficit at Orangetheory Stadium, he would have been responsible for letting a prime try-scoring, a potentially title-winning, opportunity go to waste.
It was inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half when Hall was put into wide open space by teammate Will Jordan following a scintillating burst through the Highlanders’ defence by Richie Mo’unga.
With the tryline in sight, Hall simply had to reach the in-goal area from 20 metres out and dot the ball down to give his side a one-point advantage and potentially swing the momentum of the game.
Highlanders wing Josh McKay had other ideas, though, with the renowned speedster hunting down the 28-year-old from about 10 metres away to swat the ball out of his hands from behind and deny the Crusaders a certain try.
Hall’s immediate reaction to his blundered try spoke volumes of how important McKay’s defensive heroics could have been on the outcome of the game.
Two days after eventually securing the win, he still can’t get over the fact he wasn’t able to score what looked a guaranteed five points.
“Even now, just thinking about it, it’s amazing how Josh did that. One in one hundred,” Hall told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod of his try that could have been.
“I seriously thought I might be the most hated person in Christchurch at that time, and just thought ‘If I don’t get the result here, I could seriously be in a lot of trouble down here in Christchurch’.
“But, thankfully, the boys got the job done and we were fortunate enough to get the result on yesterday [Sunday] evening.”
TRY SAVER OF THE SEASON?
You tell us? ? or ??
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) August 9, 2020
That didn’t stop Hall from describing the incident, after which he was immediately subbed off, as “the worst thing ever”.
“Will [Jordan] gave me the pass inside, and when I was running, I knew that he [McKay] was coming for me, that he was turning around and came back,” Hall recalled.
“If it was wet, I was probably going to dive early, but just thought I wasn’t going to get there, so I was just getting ready to reach out, and just the worst thing ever happened in my life.
“Just felt it come out of my hand, and my reaction just told it all. Just in a dark hole and just wanted to stay down there, but thankfully the boys got the result in the end.”
Despite the missed opportunity and a Michael Collins try shortly afterwards, the Crusaders fought back from a 22-13 deficit to score three tries and 19 unanswered points in the in the final 20 minutes to lock away their fourth straight Super Rugby crown.
Since moving down south from the Blues in 2017, Hall has been part of every one of those title-winning campaigns under the guidance of head coach Scott Robertson.
Now, he is among the most successful Super Rugby players of all-time, a notion of which he says he would have laughed at someone for suggesting prior to his arrival in Christchurch.
“I remember first coming down here, and one [title] was an amazing experience, and to have an opportunity to win a fourth one, it’s pretty special,” Hall told RugbyPass.
“If you were to ask me five years ago ‘Would I have the opportunity to have these championships?’, [I] probably would have laughed at you.
“Very fortunate and very lucky and very happy to have our crowd there and to put in a performance that they deserved, especially with us losing to the Hurricanes previously.
“We enjoyed last [Sunday] night, but we know we’ve got a massive encounter with Jippa [James Parsons] and the Blues boys, who have a sell-out at Eden Park which will be a fantastic occasion.”
With that top-of-the-table clash in mind, Hall revealed the post-match celebrations after the win against the Highlanders were more reserved than previous title successes.
“We celebrated with all our friends and family that came in the changing room, and we had a few lemonades and celebrated the success of winning,” he said.
“We had a few together as a group, and that’s pretty much it. We had a day off today and then we’re back into it.
“We did celebrate, it was an awesome achievement, it was a really tough competition like Jip knows, but, again, we’ve got a job to do come Sunday in Auckland.”
Listen to the full episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod below
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