Canes v Chiefs Wellington
It was a knee twist enough to make even TV viewers' eyes water and the worst fears were officially confirmed yesterday that Chiefs rugby lock Michael Allardice had ruptured his medial ligament.
The Hawke's Bay Magpie, who was making his first start for the Investec Super Rugby franchise in their 22-18 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday, is out of the Chiefs' campaign for the season.
"The given recovery time for that sort of injury is 6 to 8 weeks and that'll take him through to July so, with some luck, he'll be all right after a couple of games," said Magpies coach Craig Philpott last night while driving to the capital city after picking up the Hawke's Bay Team of the Year Award in Napier on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old Napier Pirate Rugby and Sport player went down hurt shortly before halftime at the Cake Tin. His knee had bent "completely the wrong way", leaving him in excruciating pain.
Allardice got gingerly to his feet but limped off for the Chiefs who were already facing a dearth of locks as loosie Liam Squire filled one of the positions.
Another loose forward, Maama Vaipulu, ran on for the Chiefs who were playing without a recognised lock.
Philpott said fortunately the Ranfurly Shield holders had a plethora of locks for the ITM Cup kicking off in August in Mark Abbott (Canes), Geoff Cridge (Canes) as well as the wider Magpies training squad of Sanaila "Junior" Waqa (Hastings Rugby and Sport), Everard Reid (MAC) and Ben Parsons (Hastings) itching to make a mark.
Asked if all NPC coaches must wake up and cringe every Monday morning after a Super round of matches, a jovial Philpott replied: "Sometimes I wish I didn't have to wake up at all."
But it wasn't all bad news for the Magpies in other Kiwi franchises. Rugby league convert and winger Ryan Tongia, despite nursing a cut above the eye in the dying minutes of the game in Bloemfontein, South Africa, dotted down twice for tries in the Highlanders' 45-24 victory over the Cheetahs early yesterday.
Magpies flanker Gareth Evans also claimed a try in the seven-try blitz as the hosts struggled to fire in the first, trailing 26-3 at halftime.
A trip to the "fortress" now awaits the Hurricanes. The Blues are in tatters off the field and have a terrible record away from home but set up a game for them at Eden Park and they generally find a way to win.
The Bulls, Force and Brumbies have all fallen to the Blues on their home patch in 2015 and that is the next game on the agenda for the Hurricanes who will travel to Auckland for a Saturday-night showdown.
"Certainly, the three games they've had at Eden Park this year, they've won; I know they consider that a fortress," Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said of John Kirwan's team.
"I think they're chock full of dangerous individuals and that's absolutely not a game that we are going to take lightly."
But it is a game where the Hurricanes may choose to rest some of their All Blacks who still need a week off, namely Conrad Smith (head knock) and Ben Franks (Achilles), who suffered bumps during the 22-18 win over the Chiefs on Saturday.
The Hurricanes are 13 points clear at the top of the New Zealand conference and, with four weeks to go, the prospect of finishing at the top of the overall standings has become a reality. additional reporting NZME.