In a match that saw Sam Cane concussed, the result was the same as it has been all season, where the luckless Chiefs lose yet again to the Hurricanes.
The nominated All Blacks captain was brought down in a collision with a leaping Jordie Barrett. Contact with the taller players hip caused Sam Cane to recoil, and he was fortunate to be able to leave the field under his own power. At the time, the match was balanced in the home team’s favour, and losing Cane only made the cause a little bit harder.
The outcome was assured by the final bonus point try to the Hurricanes. Billy Proctor waltzed over, after a fine break from halfback Jamie Booth that saw the Chiefs lose yet again. Their eighth in this Super Rugby Aotearoa competition – and defeated the hopes of players and management of retrieving any dignity for 2020.
— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) August 8, 2020
Hurricanes 31 – Tries: Umaga-Jensen (2), Coles, Van Wyk, Proctor; Cons: Barrett (3)
Chiefs 18 – Tries: Wainui, Karpik; Cons: McKenzie; Penalties: McKenzie (2)
Not taking any points back to Hamilton, now the Chiefs players will disperse with a nagging stone in their shoe. That feeling of disappointment, of not having the ball bounce their way – although both captain and coach offered no excuses.
“It’s been tough. We were in a pretty good place prior to lockdown, we’d tried to rotate a lot of the squad and given a few younger players an opportunity,” Gatland said. “We’re disappointed but we’ll learn a heck of a lot from this and will make us stronger as a unit and better going forward.”
If a picture paints a thousand words, then Warren Gatland's face and the Chiefs players faces speak for themselves#HURvCHI saw loss number 8.
Who could have imagined that in May?#rugbychat pic.twitter.com/VNNxzP9FsM
— Last Word on Rugby (@LWOSRugby) August 8, 2020
“You can see these players, they’re trying hard. They’re coming up against some good teams and we’ve got some young inexperienced players who will learn from that. I can’t fault the effort that’s going in.”
Nobody should as rugby is a game of inches. A missed tackle that would have prevented a try. A kick that if successful, would have brought the score closer and put the opposition under pressure. But it was under pressure where the Chiefs failed to make the right decisions.
Ones that if different might have seen them advance, and the opposition demoted. Yet that did not occur, and it sees the Chiefs lose again.
Sam Cane concussed, neck injury concerns for openside flanker
No replay of the incident is needed, as the impact and the image of Sam Cane dropping to the ground is self-evident. The openside flanker stayed down while medics checked on his neck. The same neck which had been broken in 2018.
Even if the player was knocked out for only a short time, the cost to the Chiefs and to the All Blacks was written on the faces of John Plumtree and head coach Ian Foster watching from the stand. On hand; like they are for the majority of Super Rugby matches, both would have felt like the attending fans, that either concussion or a neck injury were equalling devastating outcomes.
The match was stopped temporarily as Cane lay prone on his back, with medical staff checking over him. Initial calls for a stretcher were allayed, as Cane first sat up, and gratefully stood to his feet. Walking off gingerly, he grimaced and nodded to sideline staff that his day was ended. An HIA test would have been failed anyway, but of most concern would be the state of the player’s neck.
While the image of Sam Cane recoiling from his collision with Jordie Barrett was sickening, this one shows the character…
World Rugby has in place many protocols and directs unions and coaches to offer coaching that reduces the injury risk. Yet at the collision point, the geometry and physics can sometimes add-up to a point where the head has nowhere to go. Cane had a similar incident in Pretoria, but fans and observers hope the diagnosis on Sunday morning is more positive.
At the time of publishing, no official comment has been made by the team’s doctor or Chiefs management. Last Word on Rugby will update readers on the player’s health as soon as that is known, but standdown protocols for concussion will see him rested for several weeks, before any contact training resumes.
The Hurricanes maintain a mathematical chance of claiming the title which will be known by Sunday afternoon. If the leading Crusaders earn four points at the conclusion of that match, then the 2020 title will be awarded. So if the Crusaders seal title number four-in-a-row, it ends the ‘Canes hopes.
A Highlanders win can stop that.
They can provide the ‘Canes with hope. Their fans certainly hope so, and for the sake of competition, rugby pundits might too want the Dunedin team to leave Christchurch with a win.
Saturday night’s win was proof that a form Hurricanes team could accept all challenges. Even when Cobus Van Wyk was sin-binned late in the first half for dangerous play, they dominated territory and possession. Clinical with their execution from the early stages, with Peter Umaga-Jensen’s two tries giving them a 12-3 lead at halftime.
Even when Mitch Karpik crossed, a confident Hurricanes formed up, stood tall, and worked the ball forward. 56% territory was insured with consistent possession. Two-to-one ahead with clean breaks, Ardie Savea was again at his belligerent best. Jackson Garden-Bachop growing into his role, and the backline – whilst without a number of star names – is continually outmaneuvering their opponents to the enjoyment of a swelled Sky Stadium.
Next week, they face the Highlanders in a last-gasp game that may or may not determine the Super Rugby Aotearoa champions. That would be a fine ending to a resurrected season for the Wellington side. Recovering from early losses, they are on a winning streak which the Chiefs right now, would give their right eye for.
“Main photo credit”
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