Almost wasn't good enough as the Hurricanes fell to a frustrating 18-12 loss to the Reds at Suncorp Stadium.
The match featured a dramatic finish as the visitor's chased the game till the final seconds only for a spilt pass to end a challenge that was frustrated by the prominent role of referee Steve Walsh.
The Reds scored a try in each half, to wing Digby Ioane and lock Rob Simmons, while the Hurricanes had only four penalties to first five eighth Beauden Barrett to show for their efforts.
As they had a week earlier in losing to the Blues, the Hurricanes left plenty of points on the field as they bombed numerous scoring chances often by turning the ball over in contact.
The crucial moment was perhaps ten minutes after halftime when the Hurricanes botched a scrum under their post where conceding their own feed, and a try to Simmons that took the home side out to 18-9.
There were improved efforts, particularly from halfback TJ Perenara, while prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen's effort was significant, but generally the Hurricanes failed to get their attacking game going for the second week running.
A major talking point will be an incident in the 58th minute where Walsh appeared to push past Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith as he challenged a call.
It added to Smith's angst at the frequent flow of penalties and there was further drama when the TMO denied the centre what could have been the winning try with five minutes to play.
Replays showed the call was correct, a feather touch knock on by replacement halfback Chris Smylie, keeping the Reds lead intact.
The Reds spent most of the second spell defending as the Hurricanes threw everything into eroding the lead, but just couldn't convert.
Three missed penalties by Barrett didn't help, but it was the lack of finish that killed their cause.
Replacement hooker Motu Matu'u put a foot in touch as he rolled the pass back into Perenara with 15 minutes to play, then fullback Andre Taylor spilled a pass near the line with 10 to go.
To their credit the Hurricanes didn't panic continuing to put the ball behind the Reds in an attempt to force a mistake through pressure and territory.
Wing Julian Savea's chip and chase went long when perhaps he should have tucked and gone, then the TMO decision went against Smith after Reds first five eighth Quade Cooper had thrown a loose pass into his in goal.
Barrett had banged over his fourth penalty after a dangerous chop tackle by hooker Saia Faingaa on James Broadhurst who had replaced Jason Eaton to close the margin to 18-12 with 25 minutes still on the clock.
Walsh had dominated the opening half dishing out 13 penalties as the match stuttered from one shrill blast to another.
As a result the scoring consisted mainly of three penalties to Barrett and two to Cooper.
The sole try went to Ioane, who scampered over in the corner after the Hurricanes had failed to control a kick off, a recurring issue in the first half.
That allowed the Reds pack to drive toward the line before Ioane caught the visitor's short on the blindside from about 10 metres out to give his side an 11-9 lead they would hold till the break.
The Hurricanes had their moments and three promising movements came unstuck.
No 8 Brad Shields and Eaton were both having busy matches, but coughed up possession at crucial times.
Savea shook his marker five minutes from the break then found Perenara in support, but the halfback's attempted centering kick was too long.
Then on the stroke of halftime the Hurricanes botched a five metre attacking scrum when Barrett and Bateman ran into each other like keystone cops.
Fittingly the final desperate attack ended with a turnover when wing Alapati Leiua tried to off load near the line rather than take the tackle.
The Hurricanes head home to play the Crusaders in Wellington on Friday, while the Reds, with two wins and a loss, are away to the Rebels.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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