The Chiefs have survived a late scare to beat the Hurricanes 28-27 after fullback Jason Woodward blew an opportunity to snatch victory for his side on the final play of the game.
It will be a moment that Woodward will never forget, his knock-on with a clear run to the try line was the difference between the Hurricanes winning and losing what was a back-and-fourth exchange between two of Super Rugby’s best sides so far in 2016.
“Five-year olds could have caught the ball that Woodward dropped”, one media commentator said immediately after the full time whistle.
The Hurricanes will rue not capitalising when the big moments came, but Jason Woodward, an experienced rugby player, simply choked when the winning opportunity came.
What will frustrate Dane Coles and his men even more was the amount of opportunities the Chiefs gave the Hurricanes to snatch victory late in the piece.
Instead of holding possession with a minute on the clock, the Chiefs stuck to their typical expansive style of rugby, resulting in Seta Tamanivalu being held up in the ruck, giving the Hurricanes the final attacking scrum of the match.
The Chiefs take their 6th win in a row, but it was ugly, perhaps even undeserving.
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Seta Tamanivalu scored twice in the first half and ensured that when the Chiefs did get possession near the Hurricanes try line, the full allotment of points was rewarded.Embed from Getty Images
The Hurricanes scrum overpowered the Chiefs typically stable forward pack, leading to penalties, and Rhys Marshall struggled to cope with the blustery Wellington conditions that saw many Chiefs lineouts go awry.
Dane Coles continued his impressive return to rugby by powering over for a try reflective of the stronger Hurricanes effort at the breakdown.
The Hurricanes also looked good in the backline’s set play execution, Cory Jane scoring in the opening moments of the match after confusing the Chiefs defense.
With the score at 15-14 in Wellington, Dave Rennie’s message in the sheds would have been for the Chiefs to play with discipline after conceding a high number of penalties in the first half.
The Chiefs exploded out of the gates after the break, stringing together multiple phases of possession, but it was Damian McKenzie who made the most impact by setting up another counter attack.
Japan captain Michael Leitch scored under the posts for the Chiefs, not only giving his side the lead, but also providing a break in play after 5-minutes of non-stop rugby.
Beauden Barrett struggled with his kicking all game long, converting just a single notch on the night.
When Hurricanes management finally stripped Barrett of the duties, only appeared to ignite the All Black regular. Barrett stormed back into the game by setting up and eventually scoring his own try, bringing the Hurricanes back into contention for victory late in the piece.Embed from Getty Images
Jason Woodward dropped the ball on the final attacking play for the Hurricanes, handing a tight 28-27 victory to the Chiefs.