Canterbury Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was not overly pleased with their first loss at home in four years but felt the New Zealand public would be happy it had opened up the chase for the Super Rugby Aotearoa title.
The Crusaders were beaten 34-32 by the Wellington Hurricanes in a pulsating clash on Saturday, ending their four-year unbeaten streak in Christchurch and tightening the points table.
Robertson’s team still lead the domestic competition on 19 points, despite their first loss in their five games, three ahead of the Hurricanes who have played an additional match.
“If you look at the table, it would have been nice to get that result,” Robertson told reporters. “But it makes it interesting, it makes it interesting for everyone.
“I think the whole of New Zealand would have been yelling for that result, weren’t they? And fair play, here we go.”
The Auckland Blues (13) could tighten the gap even further if they beat the Waikato Chiefs later on Sunday.
The clash with the Hurricanes was at an almost test level intensity and arguably the best match of the competition involving just New Zealand’s Super Rugby sides.
It also helped end the element of invincibility the Crusaders had built up in Christchurch.
Their last previous loss to a Super Rugby side at Rugby League Park was to the Hurricanes in 2016.
It was also Robertson’s first home loss in his four-season tenure, which has seen the Crusaders also win three successive Super Rugby titles.
“I’m just really proud of all the guys over the last three and a half years that have been a part of it,” he said.
“There have been a hell of a lot of amazing moments.
“It’s pretty special to us. We will mention it as a group. Now we can put it to bed, start again.”