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'I'm lost for words': Ardie Savea demands better from officials

By Sam Smith
Ardie Savea. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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Down by three points against the Crusaders with time up on the clock and a penalty awarded, the Hurricanes made the decision to kick to the corner and go for a killer blow instead of attempting to even up the scores.

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If Jordie Barrett had been able to nail the kick, the Super Rugby Pacific match would have headed to extra-time but instead, captain Ardie Savea pointed to the corner after assistant coach Cory Jane seemed to indicate to his skipper that was the money play.

It was a bold call – and not necessarily the wrong one, but it ended in disappointment for the Savea’s men, with the five-metre lineout eventually devolving into a mess on the floor. Although the ensuing scrum would have given the Hurricanes possession, the siren had already sounded and referee Brendon Pickerill whistled for the end of the match.

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It wasn’t clear what had taken place at the lineout drive but the Hurricanes blew up at Pickerill and indicated that the TMO should be consulted, implying they thought the Crusaders had infringed in some way or form. The referee wasn’t interested in having a discussion about the call, however, and the Hurricanes were left to rue another narrow loss, having also suffered close defeats at the hands of the Chiefs and Moana Pasifika earlier this season.

Speaking after the match, captain Savea was evidently not happy with the officiating in the final moments of the game.

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“I’ve got to take a breath mate. I’m lost for words,” Savea told Sky Sports. “I’ve seen some calls that go the other way but unfortunately it didn’t happen tonight. Mate, I’m speechless at the moment, pretty heartbroken.

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”We came out here and we wanted to prove a point. The Crusaders, they’re the best team in this competition and I’m proud of my boys’ efforts. They just missed out in the end.

“As a leader I like to put pressure on, and demand from the officials and making sure they’re doing everything they can to get these calls right.

“At the end of the day, it can come to either/or, and we get an apology the next week but it’s too late. Without saying anything disrespectful, I’d just love to have the officials demand better.”

The result – coupled with the Blues’ win over the Chiefs in Hamilton – means the Crusaders and Blues will square off next weekend to decide which of the two will enter the trans-Tasman portion of Super Rugby Pacific as the top-ranked Kiwi team. With the Blues and Crusaders both winning all five of their games against Australian opposition last year, next weekend’s result could be hugely important come the end of the season.

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The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are sitting in eighth spot at present but have a game in hand over the higher-ranked sides. They will take on Moana Pasifika on Tuesday evening before finishing up their Kiwi derbies against the Highlanders next weekend.

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