Written 6 August 2016
It’s hard not to feel disappointed and a little down over the well-deserved victory of the Hurricanes over the Lions by 20 points to 3 in Wellington. The weather was poor with intermittent rain but the same for both sides. (As Nick Mallett said after the game, ‘If we hadn’t rested our best players for the match against the Jaguars in Argentina, the Lions, with a victory or a draw against the Jaguares, would have played the final at Ellis Park.’ Correct: I made the same comment strongly at the time and remain a fierce opponent of ‘resting’ players.) It might not have made a great difference but on hard fields underfoot, the Lions have played some brilliant rugby this season.
Were the Lions beaten today or did they lose? Difficult to say. The momentum was more with the Hurricanes than with the visitors. To cut a long story short, the match turned on three errors by the Lions:
Jantjies moving left from a scrum in his own red zone, flung out a hasty ill-directed pass, with his weaker hand, the right one – he’s left-handed - behind Mapoe. Mapoe then had to swivel to kick away possession into the hands of Corey Jane who scored. The poor pass led to the soft try. Not excusable. Why did Jantjies not kick for touch? Mystery.
An uncontrolled slapped ball from a lineout in the Lions’ red zone went awry and fumbling saw Barrett in for a try.
Jantjies missed two goalable penalties: Barrett goaled all his attempts at the poles.