Lions lock Ross Filipo felt "sick" the moment the pass intercepted by Auckland centre Malakai Fekitoa left his hands.
It was a decisive moment for Wellington after they had built a 22-14 lead during Saturday's NPC semifinal, only to fluff their lines in the final 23 minutes.
"I got the instruction from out wide," Filipo said. "I could actually see the guy [Fekitoa] pushing up hard, but I thought I had time to give it.
"As soon as the ball came out of my hands I knew it was too late. I'm pretty disappointed to be honest. I feel sick about it.
"Auckland did their homework. You could tell they had a set defence pattern for that part of the field to shut us down going wide. It sucks. I feel like the troll at the moment."
Filipo might feel better after he watches a replay of a match that never really went Wellington's way.
A controversial try to Auckland prop Pauliasi Manu was not referred to the TMO despite a clear foot in touch as he stretched for the line with the Lions up 15-9.
And it was a dubious free kick for an early engagement on the Lions' own scrum feed, not the intercept try, that gave Fekitoa his second try and Auckland the lead, 26-22, with 10 minutes to play.
Between times Filipo was one of the Lions' best and scored a brilliant try just before halftime to peg Auckland's lead back to 9-8 at the break.
What remains to be seen is whether the former All Black has done enough to gain a Super Rugby contract when he enters the draft.
Whatever happens, Filipo hoped Wellingtonians would not dwell on the negatives too long.
"Wellington rugby is in great shape. People don't have to worry. This is a young, young team that will only get better over coming years.
"The good thing about this season is it's unearthed some great players for the future. I've been privileged to play with young guys who will be stars of tomorrow."
He reserved special praise for captain Jeremy Thrush who he believed was the form lock of the NPC and deserved consideration for the All Blacks' end-of-year tour squad.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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