Highlanders scrum-half Aaron Smith prevented a potential try for the Chiefs by using a “captain’s referral”, in their Super Rugby Aotearoa clash this morning.
The new law, which has been introduced in New Zealand’s Super Rugby competition this year, allows a captain to insist that a referee must use the TMO to check an incidence of potential foul play from the last phase.
Smith, who started on the bench but was handed the captaincy after Ash Dixon left the field, made great use of the new law variation in the Highlanders’ victory against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Aaron Smith has provided our first big Captain’s Referral – a new law this year – of 2021.
After the Chiefs scored an apparent try, Smith approached the referee saying “Elbow to the neck on the last carry, […] Josh Ioane […] from Black 19” in the build-up.#CHIvHIG pic.twitter.com/BOZyOfQEyE
— EK Rugby Analysis (@ek_rugby) March 5, 2021
Chiefs winger Etene Nanai-Seturo crossed the Highlander’s try line with just a couple of minutes remaining, which would have given his team an outside chance of a late comeback.
Referee Paul Williams was about to ask his TMO to check for a potential knock-on in the build-up to the try, but All Black scrum-half Smith used his referral to ensure the TMO checked a previous incident in the same phase of play.
Smith asked the referee to check for an elbow to the neck of his fly-half Josh Ioane, and was rewarded for his quick-thinking when the Highlanders were awarded a penalty for that same incident.
Each team is given one captain’s referral in each game, which can be used for a try-scoring incident, a potential act of foul play or in the last five minutes of each half. If the referral is successful, the team retains their one referral.
Nareki hat-trick seals the win for the Highlanders.
The Highlanders ran out 39-23 winners in the end, having trailed by 14 points after the opening 30 minutes of play.
Winger Jona Nareki was crucial to the Highlanders’ change in fortunes, as the Fijian-born speedster scored a hat-trick to help his side to their first win of the 2021 season.
Jona Nareki 😍
— Speight’s Highlanders (@Highlanders) March 5, 2021
Offaly native Jack Regan started his second competitive match for the Highlanders, coming off after 55 minutes, in what was another busy shift from the Irishman.