Chiefs coach Warren Gatland has taken umbrage with Jordie Barrett’s long-range hoof that helped push the Hurricanes to their first Super Rugby Aotearoa victory, claiming it was taken 10 metres off the mark.
Barrett’s 58-metre penalty, which gave the Hurricanes a 17-point halftime lead in their eventual 25-18 victory in Hamilton on Sunday, underlined his superb striking ability that few, if any, in world rugby can match.
After watching his side fall to their fourth straight defeat, despite enjoying a one-man advantage for 25 minutes in the second half after Hurricanes lock Scott Scrafton copped his second yellow card, Gatland complained about where Barrett took his kick.
“The penalty on halftime was probably 10 metres forward from where it should have been but that’s us at the moment. We’ve got to take our opportunities,” Gatland said.
“In those moments we just need to make sure we get some clarity. It’s an easy one to say ‘that’s not the mark it’s 10 metres back’. We saw a situation last night where there was a penalty and try scored from a forward pass. We need to make sure our communication is better.
“It was a great kick and he kicked one in the warm-up from about 60 metres but that wasn’t where the mark was from. We’ve got to make sure we get those things right because they are big moments in the game.”
“I’m not going to lie it was disappointing,” Cane said. “I was outside Nepo – I saw he was offside, it was a fair penalty. I can understand two metres but 10 you’re wondering what you’re looking at. At the same time, that’s not the winning and losing of the game right there, it’s just a disappointing moment.
“We’re all singing off the same song sheet and trying our guts out but if we can control a few more things like that 10-minute period before halftime and then it’s a different ball game. It’s a happy camp, it’s a camp that’s fighting for each other, but four losses isn’t pretty.”
Hurricanes coach Jason Holland brushed off the Barrett strike which, in fairness, had minimal bearing on the outcome.
“I haven’t seen that,” Holland said. “That’s the way it goes. If that’s an issue, I’m not sure. It was a good kick anyway. He told me in the warm-up he had 65 metres in him with the breeze and I laughed at him.
“It was massive to get the win tonight. A lot of it was around attitude and ticker. We’ve got a lot of scope to get a lot better. I said to the boys ‘I reckon you’ve got to score 30 points to win these games’ and we’ve got to be a little bit more accurate to do that but I can’t fault the effort. We can build from here nicely.”
After snapping a three-loss run since lockdown Hurricanes captain TJ Perenara was proud of his side’s defensive resilience and happy to welcome Barrett back from a shoulder injury.
“He would kick the ball from anywhere. He likes those kicks, he likes big moments,” Perenara said. “He’s a quality player. It’s not just his kicking ability off the tee – his kicking out of hand, running the ball and organisation has been crucial for us.
“The best thing it gives us is the ability for teams not to give penalties away in that area of the field – they know that we’ll take points from there. I’m not sure he’s missed too many from there so it’s a good weapon for us to have.”
In both tries scored by Hurricanes wing Kobus van Wyk the Chiefs were guilty of rushing the ball carrier without making a spot tackle and leaving far too much space on the outside to exploit. With the bye week to contemplate these costly defensive blunders, Gatland admitted the Chiefs’ title hopes were dashed.
“It’s frustrating at the moment we can’t seem to buy a trick. Everyone realises how tough this competition is and you need a bit of momentum and luck and we need some of that at the moment.
“We’ve got to keep learning from these situations. For us it’s about earning some respect and pride and hurting some other people on the way. We can’t win this competition now if we’re realistic but we want to earn some respect in these last four games and that’s pretty important.”
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