'We're getting robbed': Highlanders captain incensed after Hurricanes defeat
Highlanders captain Aaron Smith was not happy following his side’s defeat at the hands of the Hurricanes on Saturday evening.
Smith delivered some scathing commentary of the match officials following the game, both questioning a crucial last-minute TMO decision and lambasting the general inconsistencies of dealing with foul play.
Down by a point with time up on the clock, it looked like the Hurricanes were home and dry in Dunedin but the Highlanders came within inches of scoring a game-winning try after the hooter, but the television match official concluded that prop Saula Ma’u had made a double movement on the ground while trying to get the ball over the line.
In reality, that was a fairly straightforward decision – but that wasn’t where All Blacks halfback Smith directed most of his frustrations.
In the 19th minute of the match, Highlanders lock Josh Dickson was appropriately red-carded for a dangerous tackle. What upset Smith was that there appeared to be two questionable challenges from the Hurricanes in the second half which weren’t spotted by the refereeing team and therefore went completely unpunished. Effectively, the officiating wasn’t consistent throughout the game.
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“We were one moment away today,” Smith said on Sky Sports‘ post-match broadcast. “It could have been a try there. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.
“But we’re getting robbed all the time.
“We had a red card for contact to the head and one of our guys blatantly gets a black eye, and the touchies and ref walk it off like it’s nothing.
“All we want is consistency as players and we’re just getting no rub of the green at the moment. It’s hard to swallow.”
Highlanders coach Tony Brown was more circumspect with his post-game thoughts.
“I actually haven’t seen the head collision with Gareth [Evans] and I think there’s one on Billy Harmon as well at the end of the game there but I haven’t had a good look at it,” he said. “If it is clearly contact to the head then it’d be very disappointing from my side.”
Smith’s comments come just a week after fellow All Black Ardie Savea called out the referees following his side’s loss to the Crusaders.
In the final play of the game, the Hurricanes looked to set up a lineout drive five metres out from the Crusaders’ tryline but Scott Barrett managed to legally disrupt the ball in the air. Savea, however, saw it otherwise and was critical of the officials for not looking at the challenge.
“I’m lost for words,” he said. “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.
“As a leader, I like to put pressure on and demand from the officials [that they are] 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.”
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