Hawke's Bay were denied a try in the last minute of their Air NZ Cup clash with Canterbury, that gave the defending champs a 27-20 win on Thursday.
Hawke's Bay were denied a try in the last minute of their Air New Zealand Cup clash with Canterbury, that gave the defending champions a 27-20 win in Napier on Thursday.
In a hard-fought yet controversial match, the Magpies scored a legitimate try in the corner thanks to prop Faka'anaua Taumalolo on full-time. But the touchdown was disallowed as unsighted referee Chris Pollock deferred the decision to his touch-judge.
Perhaps the right call would have been made had the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) decided earlier this year to have Television Match Officials (TMOs) in the provincial tournament.
As befitting a clash between the competition's two top teams, the contest was confrontational with Hawke's Bay overcoming the an early converted try to take a 17-14 lead into the break.
But Canterbury had the wind behind them in the second half and with All Blacks pivot Dan Carter dictating play, the visitors spent most of the spell in their hosts' territory.
Carter kicked two penalty goals to put Canterbury ahead and then clinched the win with a strong surge to the line in the final quarter.
For Hawke's Bay, the bonus point they secured for losing by seven points or less kept alive their hopes of securing a home semi-final.
Canterbury opened the match with a slick try after the ball was moved wide at express speed for winger James Paterson to beat a scrambling defence and dot down for Carter to convert.
But Hawke's Bay, backed by a baying crowd of 17,000 that packed their Napier ground, replied with 17 unanswered points in the space of 30 minutes as fly-half Matt Berquist started their roll by kicking over two penalties and a drop goal.
A brilliant team effort then saw in-form winger Zac Guildford end off with a try in the corner – his thirteenth of the season. Berquist, who missed the conversion, had the crowd in raptures minutes later when he slotted a monster 55 metre penalty.
Carter then showed his class, gliding through a half gap to set up a try for All Blacks colleague Richie McCaw before the teams took to the half-time sheds.
Canterbury regained the lead as Carter put over two early penalties. But Berquist tied the score again (20-20) with another penalty.
But in the 68th minute Carter showed his class, running hard onto an Andy Ellis pass from an attacking scrum and charging over by the post and converting to put Canterbury ahead 27-20.
Hawke's Bay tried to get back into the game but to no avail as Canterbury battened down the hatches after Carter's try. But their efforts almost paid off in the dying seconds as number eight Thomas Waldrom took a quick-tap penalty inside Canterbury's 22 and the ball was moved wide to Taumololo…
But the rest, as they say, is history.
For Hawke's Bay:
Pens: Berquist 4
Tries: Paterson, McCaw, Carter
Cons: Carter 3
Pens: Carter 2
Hawke's Bay: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Nick Thomson, 13 Jason Shoemark (c), 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Matt Berquist, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 George Naoupu, 5 Ross Kennedy, 4 Michael Johnson, 3 Clint Newland, 2 Hikawera Elliot, 1 Faka'anaua Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Josh Keys, 18 Matt Egan, 19 Adam Bradey, 20 Dane Shelford, 21 Sam Giddens, 22 Richard Buckman.
Canterbury: 15 Colin Slade, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 James Paterson, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Richie McCaw, 7 George Whitelock (c), 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Brad Thorn, 4 Isaac Ross, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo,17 Peter Borlase, 18 Ash Parker, 19 Nasi Manu, 20 Tyson Keats, 21 Ryan Crotty, 22 Chris Small
Referee: Chris Pollock