Super Rugby Aotearoa: Hurricanes coach Jason Holland bemoans controversial penalty try in loss to Blues

Hurricanes coach Jason Holland feels a controversial penalty try and yellow card decision was wrong during his side's 27-17 Super Rugby Aotearoa defeat to the Blues. 

The controversial moment came in the 31st minute, when 'Canes captain Ardie Savea was sin-binned and the Blues were awarded seven points by referee Brendon Pickerill, for collapsing a maul close to their line.

A clearly frustrated Holland didn't hide his feelings postgame about the decision. 

"They just have to make sure they get those big calls right," Holland says. "She's seven points with a penalty try and a sin bin and you can't play with 14 and create tempo. 

"When there are big calls like that, they've got to be bang on."

When asked whether he thought the decision was correct, Holland said: "No I don't. It was a tough one, but you get those, they go both ways, it's just unfortunate that they're big swings in the game."

Discipline let the visitors down throughout the first half with openside flanker Du'Plessis Kirifi also sent to the naughty chair for an illegal cleanout on Otere Black before the Savea yellow card. 

"I think it was a fair decision," Holland says of the Kirifi decision. "Doops [Kirifi] was just a bit reckless there. 

"He wasn't close enough to the ball and I think he slipped over his shoulder and onto the back of his head." 

As the Hurricanes did last week against the Highlanders, they managed the period with 14 players superbly. When Kirifi was in the bin, the Hurricanes won the 10 minutes 3-0 and when their skipper was off the field they lost it 7-6. Holland is stoked with how his side managed the 20 minutes with 14-players. 

"We've worked hard at things that don't go our way and being able to get into the next moment and nail the next bit," he says.

"I thought the boys did that well. We had Doops and Ards [Savea] in the bin for 10 minutes each in that first half and we definitely won the first when Doops was off.

"The boys reacted really well and that was awesome for us, with our mental toughness there to switch into the next role.

"They're big swings, but I was really proud with how the boys got through that 20 minutes." 

The Hurricanes will rue their inability to capitalise on period possession and territory in the Blues red-zone when they had 14 players in the opening half but just couldn't make the opportunities count. 

"We felt like we were on top of them in that first half," Savea says. "We had a lot of possession and just couldn't nail that last pass or last moment and like Holland says it's probably come down to individual errors." 

The job doesn't get easier for the bottom-placed Hurricanes who return home to face the four-time defending champions Crusaders, who are coming off a shock defeat to the Highlanders. That will give Holland's side a much-needed boost heading into the contest. 

"The Highlanders were impressive," Holland says. 

"We can take something away from them with how they attacked the Crusaders.

"They attacked them when they had the ball and when they didn't.

"Everyone knows in this competition that when one team gets it right and the other one doesn't, they'll win regardless of who you are. 

"We can't do anything about the Blues, so now we'll look at the Crusaders and make sure we attack with the same vigour we saw from the Highlanders on Friday."

The Hurricanes will sweat on the availability of Kirifi ahead of that clash against the Crusaders but Holland is confident his man will be available. 

"If that call goes to a red card in a game of footy, then the game has gone to the dogs," he says.

Join us on Saturday for live updates of the Chiefs taking on the Highlanders.