In front of home crowd

CityPress - - Sport - – Sport24 and Su­per-

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.

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