Reds captain Will Genia suggested that the try scored by Hosea Gear just before half-time changed the game, while the Hurricanes in turn pointed to the yellow card handed out to flank Andrew Shaw at the start of the second half as the defining moment.
Either way, the end result will go down as a defining moment in the much-improved Reds’ season.
The Reds, who had raced into a 21-8 lead inside the first half-an-hour of the Super 14 game in Wellington on Friday, could not score for the next 50 minutes – as the Hurricanes not only recorded a comprehensive 44-21 victory, but also leapfrogged the Australian franchise into the top four and virtually ended the Reds’ season.
Genia described Gear’s first-half score, after the hooter for half-time had already sounded, as a “massive turning point”.
“We started well,” Genia said of his team’s early lead, adding: “We knew we had to start well and play well for 80 minutes, but at the back end of that second half they came back strongly.
“Credit to them, it was a crucial game and they ended up on top.
“We had them in that whole first half and they scored just on half-time, I think it was a massive turning point.”
Genia admitted that score shifted the momentum in the match and said his team will give it a full go in their last game of the season, against the Highlanders in Brisbane next week, even if they are no longer in the play-off running.
“We still feel we have a lot to play for, we have one more game at home against the Highlanders. We really want to put in a good performance, as a group and for the fans.”
Hurricanes captain Andrew Hore instead pointed to the second-half yellow card as the game’s turning point.
Reds flank Andrew Shaw was sin-binned for hurling Piri Weepu into the turf, and the ‘Canes cashed in on the one-man advantage with two converted tries before the Reds were back to their full compliment.
“That was huge,” Hore said.
“We played in the right areas when they had a man down and played in their half for that whole time and got some good tries.”
He said it was “what the crowd and the Hurricanes have been waiting for all year”, a performance like that in the second half.
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie also pointed to Shaw’s sin-binning as the game – and possibly season’s – turning point.
“We had the scoreboard working for us [at 21-8 in front] and then a couple of things and we’re playing catch-up,” McKenzie said.
“They [Hurricanes] just had to keep kicking the ball down the other end and we had to make the play. That’s how the game works.”
While both sides had their share of injuries before the game, McKenzie said the Reds’ depth and lack of match play in some positions was exposed, although former Wallaby Radike Samo did well in his first appearance for Queensland.
“We never had enormous depth as it was, so we went to our depth and some of it worked and some of it didn’t,” McKenzie said.
“I thought Samo did a pretty good job on very short preparation. He hasn’t played a lot of rugby but he stepped in and I thought he suited the occasion. I thought he did some very good things. He’ll only get better for the run so it’s encouraging having him coming in.”
Article Courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet