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A fine forward effort, backed up by some tigerish defence, all came back to nothing for the Highlanders, who lost 25-22 in added time to the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Highlanders assistant coach Mark Hammett said the side had played well throughout and it was a tough loss to swallow.
"It was a hell of an effort and we were pretty ruthless all night ... but we probably just did not put them right out of the game when we were eight points up and they were good enough to stay in it and come back,"he said.
"They scored some good tries when we didn't quite clear the ball right. But in the first half, playing into a wind, I thought we were outstanding and we had some great offensive defence.''
Hammett said the pack had played well and the young players, such as locks Josh Dickson and Pari Pari Parkinson and blindside flanker Jackson Hemopo, had really shown their wares at Super Rugby level.
A couple of young props, flanking hooker Liam Coltman, led a strong scrum, which Hammett said showed the tremendous work the side had done over past weeks.
"The guys are disappointed and that is understandable. It was an outstanding performance by the players and tough to not come out with the reward.''
He said derby games were always close and there was never much in them. He said a high tackle by Alex Fidow on second five-eighth Thomas Umaga-Jensen did not concern him as it started off at a point of contact which was legal.
The breakdown was as usual fiercely contested but Hammett said there was some head-scratching with what was being allowed.
Umaga-Jensen was forced off the field with a sore neck and looked dizzy while first five-eighth Josh Ioane and lock Parkinson also left the field after blows to the head.
They would enter the concussion protocol but were walking around after the game.