Rugby: 'We never got that rub of the green'

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph felt his side did not get the rub of the green last night and were hard done by at times.

Joseph said, though he would have to study the game tape, there were times when his side was getting penalised when the Blues were doing exactly the same thing.

He said lock Jarrad Hoeata was sin binned right at the end of the first half for a team foul after it racked up a series of penalties.

"Yet right at the start of the second half exactly the same thing happened. We were hard on attack and they gave away a professional foul but we never got that rub of the green," Joseph said.

"I thought they were pretty good around the breakdown and that is the contest. We rolled our sleeves up in that area and so did they but it seemed as though we got penalised a lot more than they did."

He said the loss of Tony Brown to a hamstring injury early on was a big blow, as he was a key man, having trained in the No 10 jersey all week, and was expected to direct the team around the paddock.

"He won't be any good for a while and it put us in disarray for a while ... and you have a look at those sort of circumstances, you realise how well those guys are going. To turn around, and then put a performance like that in the second half, is really, really pleasing."

Joseph praised the play of Ben Smith, who he said was outstanding and made plenty of breaks from the back.

"It is just the continuation of the good form he has been in."

Blues coach Pat Lam praised his forward pack which he said fronted in what was a test-match like intensity at times.

"We had to attack them at the breakdown., They are by far the best team at it and you've got to be prepared to come down here and do that.

"I though the referee controlled that really, really well. We're all for the contest but you've got to stay on your feet, and not come in from the sides," Lam said.

"He sent a strong message early on and both teams were guilty of it at times."

Luke McAlister limped off near the end with a leg injury, while Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith ended the game in the sin bin after a tip tackle on opposite Toby Morland.


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