'Tough pill to swallow': Ardie Savea 'gutted' as Hurricanes' title chances take a big blow
However, the 27-year-old loose forward remains optimistic leading into the final round of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, even if the Hurricanes now stand as an outside chance of making the final on June 19.
Needing a victory to stay in the top two of the competition, and a bonus point to go into first place, the Hurricanes were denied victory as Jordie Barrett missed two penalties in the final three minutes to leave the Wellingtonians trailing by two points at full-time.
Not only was it their first loss to an Australian franchise this season, the result also keeps the Hurricanes in fourth place, two competition points astray from a finals berth with one round to play in the regular season.
As such, the Hurricanes now need to beat the Reds in Wellington on Friday and hope two of the three teams above them – the Blues, Highlanders or Crusaders – slip up against the Force, Brumbies and Rebels, respectively.
Given their status as title frontrunners leading into their clash in the Australian capital, their fall down the ladder has come as a bitter blow for Savea, who said he and his side knew their trip to GIO Stadium wouldn’t be easy.
“It’s a pretty tough pill to swallow,” Savea told Channel Nine shortly after the match.
Tonight, we knew coming to Canberra was going to be a tough one and, the Brumbies boys, they were going to bring it physically and they certainly did that.
“Just missed out in the end there in the end. Pretty gutted, to be honest, but it is what it is.”
Barrett’s two unsuccessful penalty attempts late on in the match weren’t the only chances the Hurricanes had to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Reserve prop Alex Fidow crossed over for what could have been the match-winning try in the 74th minute, but a TMO review overruled the decision as Savea was deemed to have knocked the ball on in the lead-up to the try.
The decision may be seen as a controversial one considering how close Savea came to catching it, but the 49-test All Black took the call on the chin, even if he didn’t agree with it.
Here’s how the Hurricanes rated after they became the second team from New Zealand to lose to an Australian side when they were defeated 12-10 by the Brumbies in Canberra. #SuperRugbyTT #BRUvHUR https://t.co/Bi4wkS0Gk0
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 5, 2021
“I’ll always say it wasn’t a knock on, but the ref’s the ref and he makes the final decision, so we’ve got to live with that and move forward. There’s a lot more opportunities in that game, we could have closed it off, but we didn’t take it,” he said.
“Like I said, gutted right now, but we’ve got next week to work on.”
Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa, meanwhile, compared the fixture to that of a test match due to the intensity of the occasion.
“You’ve got to be pleased with that effort,” the 43-test Wallabies prop said of his team’s first-up win in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
“The boys dug deep there and it was just good to be back home and just very grateful to get the win.”
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