Lions captain Warren Whiteley has been left to rue two mistakes by his side after the Hurricanes were crowned Super Rugby champions in Wellington.
A poor kick in his own 22 by Rohan Janse van Rensburg in the first half gifted Cory Jane the game’s opening try on Saturday night, while a botched clearance from a stolen lineout late in the second half saw Beauden Barrett seal the 20-3 victory at Westpac Stadium.
“They had two opportunities, two mistakes from our side, and they punished us,” Whiteley said.
“But I’m still extremely proud of the team and the effort.”
Whiteley and his coach Johan Ackermann also felt the way Barrett had controlled the game played a big part in the Hurricanes winning their maiden title.
Besides his try, the Hurricanes No.10 kicked two penalties and two conversions and showcased his excellent kicking on a wet and windy evening as he constantly turned the Lions around.
“We can’t use the conditions as an excuse because it’s the same for both sides,” Whiteley said.
“I think Beauden played exceptionally well tonight and controlled the game and made the right decisions at the right time.”
Just three years ago, the Johannesburg-based Lions were relegated from the competition, and Ackermann said despite the result in Wellington there were “a lot more positives than negatives” for his team.
“This season there were some great victories in local derbies as well as overseas against the Crusaders and the Chiefs, and last weekend the (win over) the Highlanders, which we as a franchise have not often achieved in the past,” the Lions coach said.
“I’m proud of the guys. The result will hurt but hopefully for some individuals they will get that opportunity to play (for the Springboks). The rest of us will go back to the Currie Cup.
“It was an amazing season.”