The Hurricanes are poised to win their first Super Rugby title, but they and influential playmaker TJ Perenara might be breathing a sigh of relief the halfback wasn't cited for foul play during their 25-9 semifinal victory over the Chiefs last night.
If so, Perenara might have missed next Saturday's final against the Lions in Wellington, and possibly some or all of the Rugby Championship.
The incident, caught on Sky's match footage, but not replayed, occurred in the 57th minute in front of the Hurricanes' posts following a ruck clean out by Chiefs flanker and co-captain Sam Cane.
Cane, charging through the ruck, brought down Perenara some metres beyond it, and the 24-year-old All Black, captaining his side in the absence of the injured Dane Coles, extended both feet, appearing to catch Cane in the face with his sprigs.
Cane stayed down clutching his face, but to his credit made nothing of it. Perenara, meanwhile, appeared panicked for Cane's welfare and possibly his own place on the field. Fortunately for him, neither referee Angus Gardner nor his assistants noticed the incident.
A Sanzaar spokesman today said he believed no citings would result from that match or the later semifinal in Johannesburg, which the Lions won 42-30 to give themselves a chance to win their maiden title.
According to the competition organiser's website, a citing commissioner has 12 hours from the final whistle to cite a player should he commit what is regarded as a red-card offence.
According to World Rugby's guidelines, the "lower end" sanction for kicking is a two-week ban, four weeks for a "mid-range" offence, and 12-plus weeks for a "top end" one.
The incident also once again displayed the power of a television commentator and producer in attracting the attention of match officials to off-the-ball incidents.
Earlier in the second half of the match, Cane was the transgressor in an incident in which he shoved Hurricanes hooker Ricky Riccitelli from behind with his shoulder, something witnessed by Sky's pitch-side comments man Ian Smith, and therefore replayed several times by the broadcaster both on TV and the Westpac Stadium's big screen.
That caught the attention of television match official Ben Skeen and resulted in a penalty against Cane which put the Hurricanes on to the attack and led to a converted try to Victor Vito which all but sealed the game.
Unfortunately for Cane, the courtesy wasn't extended to him when he was the victim. With Cory Jane sinbinned in the 63rd minute for an intentional knock-on, the loss of Perenara as well could have changed the complexion of the game.
Perenara has been exceptional inside the similarly in-form Beauden Barrett over the past five weeks. With the double act set to resume against the men from South Africa, the Hurricanes appear finally ready to break their title drought and put last year's final defeat to the Highlanders behind them.