WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Wellington Hurricanes scrumhalf TJ Perenara offered support to Salesi Rayasi and told the rookie winger not to curb his instincts after he was sinbinned for a deliberate knockdown in the Super Rugby quarter-finals on Saturday.
The 22-year-old, who also scored two tries after he replaced the injured Wes Goosen in the 19th minute, conceded a penalty try when he attempted to intercept the ball as South Africa’s Bulls looked almost certain to score in the corner.
Rayasi’s absence allowed Bulls winger Cornal Hendricks to grab his second try but the Hurricanes held on to win the match 35-28 and advance to a semi-final against the Canterbury Crusaders in Christchurch next week.
“If he picks that off, he scores down the other end,” Perenara said of the 52nd-minute incident when Rayasi attempted to intercept the ball less than 20-metres from his own line.
“For our players, I’m a big believer in trusting their instincts and pulling the trigger on it and we’ll live with the consequences, good or bad.
“He didn’t quite get it right there, but I’ll be telling (him) that if he sees a play like that again ‘then you pull the trigger and we’ll live with it’.”
Rayasi, who also gave Hendricks the opportunity to score his first try with a weak tackle in the first half, said it had been a strange game.
“Mixed emotions. Couple of tries but the yellow card really could have cost us and I know that I have to be careful,” he said. “Overall as an experience it was quite weird.”
Bulls coach Pote Human felt his side had done well to get back into the match after the home side had extended their lead to 29-14 lead early in the second half.
The South Africans pressed in the final few minutes seeking a converted try to level the scores but were unable to pierce a desperate Hurricanes defensive line.
“I thought ‘here comes extra time’,” Human said of the last five minutes when the Bulls pressed the Hurricanes.
“I thought we were really close and in with a chance. The guys really fought to the end and I’m very proud. They put everything on the line but unfortunately we couldn’t pull it through.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)