Auckland coach peeved by ref's ruling
Wayne Pivac believes a referee's error may have cost his Auckland side a chance at claiming national rugby glory on Saturday night.
The Auckland coach stopped short of saying Glen Jackson's decision not to award a penalty try cost his side the match, but said it changed the landscape of the final.
Auckland were 13-10 ahead when Canterbury wing Telusa Veainu was yellow carded for deliberately knocking a pass forward when Auckland had a four on one overlap just metres from the tryline.
Had the pass found an Auckland hand they would have certainly scored and extended their lead, toughening Canterbury's comeback.
Instead they fluffed the penalty attempt and when Ali Williams was unable to control a lineout ball minutes later Canterbury pounced and scored to snatch the lead heading into the break.
Whether Veainu's action was an attempted intercept or an intended piece of skulduggery depends on which province you pledge allegiance to but Pivac didn't hesitate in giving his views.
"It should have been a penalty try," he said. "It was clearly going to be a three on zero. If he hadn't put that hand out we would have scored."
"I wouldn't say we were robbed by it but we were disappointed not to get the decision of a penalty try because a 20-10 halftime lead would have been a lot better than being 15-13 down.
"We felt like we had done enough to be in front, so I guess that was a body blow to the players. But you don't get every decision going your way."
Pivac also took issue with the way that Canterbury dominate teams at the breakdown and went as far to talk to Jackson about how it was going to be managed before the match.
"The work they do at the breakdown is very questionable and we talked to the referee about it before the game. It's just sealing the ball off, but they do it very, very well and you have to commend them for the way they play.
"They put pressure on the referee and they got the rewards tonight.
"We just made too many errors in that second half and lost our way a bit and Canterbury capitalised and put us away."
Auckland captain Daniel Braid was awarded his blazer after the match for making his 100th appearance for the province. He could have marked the milestone with a try in the dying seconds but unselfishly passed the ball to Lolagi Visinia, who dotted down.
- The Press
Is the Canterbury team 'mentally soft'?Related story: North Harbour stun hapless Canterbury team