In front of home crowd
minute but was thrown a wayward pass by Brad Shields and the All Blacks winger was unable to haul in the ball as it dropped behind him.
With the score 18-11 to the Highlanders at the time, a try could have turned the game after the visitors had been under immense pressure from the home side.
“I think that was a little symptomatic of the whole game; for some reason, we were just a little off,” Boyd said.
“We just couldn’t hold on to the ball for enough phases to get us to the edge and start playing our game.
“It was frustrating because we were just getting going, and then we coughed it up. “It’s a massive waste of an opportunity.” It was a match fitting of the occasion, with both teams making it clear from the outset that they were not going to die wondering, as they threw everything at their opponents.
It was a game that in some ways went according to script, in that the Highlanders won because they employed the better territory-kicking game – but in one crucial way it didn’t, as most pundits had predicted a home-team win.
The half-time stats told the story – the Highlanders forced to make more than twice as many tackles, but kicked a lot more than their opponents, and they led 13-5.
While they had come up second in the battle for possession up to that point, they got into the Hurricanes half enough to create opportunities, which they exploited, and their impressive line speed on defence made it impossible for the Hurricanes to pick up momentum.
The upshot was that the Hurricanes, who were often so close to scoring and only just denied, were chasing the game from the fifth minute, which was when Lima Sopoaga kicked the first penalty to put the Highlanders into a 3-0 lead.
And when you are chasing a game, particularly in a final, you simply have to make full use of your point-scoring opportunities.
The Hurricanes didn’t do that, and apart from two missed penalties from Barrett, there was also the decision to opt for a scrum rather than kick for posts in the early minutes. It was a game of fine margins.