Joseph questions referee’s calls

Date published: March 20 2015

Highlanders boss Jamie Joseph was left frustrated after his side's 20-13 loss to the Hurricanes in Dunedin on Friday.

It's the first time in 12 years the Hurricanes have won five in a row as they consolidated their position at the top of the overall table while the Highlanders are in fifth spot in the standings and in third place in the New Zealand Conference.

Joseph admitted that both sides were guilty of scrappy play, especially during the first half, but felt that some of the marginal decisions were not going his side's way.

"We didn't have an ounce of luck," he said after the match.

"I didn't feel that we got any decisions for us and we didn't play very well at the start of the game either.

"I think both teams were messy, there were a lot of nerves out there, a lot at stake I guess."

The Highlanders came close to securing a draw in the dying moments of the game but rookie referee Ben O'Keeffe disallowed a try after the hooter due to a forward pass.

While that decision was correct, Joseph feels there were other calls which O'Keefe made which had a big influence on the game.

"He's going to be a good ref at some stage, he just needs to get some experience," added Joseph.

"He's going to come on, he communicates well with the players, he's decisive.

"You feel for the players because obviously a lot of effort goes into the game and the preparation, but there was a lot of marginal decisions that went against us.

"The opportunities that we did get given, in terms of our attack, we didn't take them. They defended well, the Hurricanes."

Meanwhile, Hurricanes boss Chris Boyd hailed his players for grinding out the win.

"Sometimes you can blast out a win and sometimes you have to grind out a win and we would put this in the grind category," said Boyd.

"The Highlanders are getting pretty good at coming back hard at the end.

"I think it's a true reflection that two years ago we had guys that were new to Super Rugby, now they have 25 or 30 caps and we've still managed to hold onto the experienced end.

"I think there is a good degree of experience, or maturity, in the side."

Reggie Goodes' try in the 48th minute and TJ Perenara's in the 72nd allowed them to break out of a 3-3 halftime deadlock.

The home side hit back with a 78th-minute try to fly-half Lima Sopoaga, who scored all of his team's points.

"It was tough, we knew it was going to be, and it just came down to a few moments," said Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith.

"We didn't have a good first 40 minutes, we were lucky to be in it, but then we played a good 25 and were good enough to keep pressure right on them."