Canes sweating over Milner-Skudder
INJURY UPDATE: The defending champion Hurricanes were given a rude awakening and dealt a cruel injury blow.
The Canes' unbeaten run in the season came to an abrupt end when the Chiefs won their Super Rugby match 26-18 in Hamilton.
It proved a tough match for the visitors from the start - after prop Loni Uhila left the field with a recurrence of the calf problem that had kept him out of the first two rounds of the season.
Fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder would join him on the injury list, after leaving the field with an ankle injury in the 55th minute.
Throw in first half yellow cards to openside Ardie Savea and lock Michael Fatialofa and things could not have gone worse for head coach Chris Boyd's squad.
Milner-Skudder's latest injury follows after he missed nearly all of 2016 with a shoulder injury. He also suffered a hamstring strain in pre-season.
He appears to be set for another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd was unable to provide an injury update.
Hurricanes scrumhalf TJ Perenara hoped Milner-Skudder's talents would not be lost for too long.
"I saw him in the changing rooms he looked a little bit sore," Perenara told stuff.co.nz.
"Hopefully he'll be alright. We'll deal with it when we know and we've got some quality players in our team.
"It's stink for him because he came off missing almost all of last season so to come back in a get injured a couple of games in it's rough so I'm wishing him all the best."
Milner-Skudder was not the only victim of the fiery encounter.
Tim Nanai-Williams, who started for the Chiefs at centre, left the game within the first five minutes with a dislocated shoulder.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said Nanai-Williams would be sidelined for anywhere between four to six weeks.
The Hurricanes coach, Boyd, berated his team's poor discipline and error count.
"We're grumpy because we were ill-disciplined and gave away a couple of yellow cards," Boyd said.
"One was a bit tough, I thought. One was fair. We made too many unforced mistakes and we couldn't build pressure as a result. The Chiefs are the Chiefs, and you know what you're going to get.
"Clearly we weren't disciplined enough, according to the referee, so that was disappointing."
The mood in the Chiefs camp was the contrast.
"We're really happy," Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said.
"[It was] difficult conditions and we always knew it was going to be an arm wrestle against a side that was pretty hot.
"We dealt with the conditions a bit better. Our kicking was good until the end, when we weren't that flash.
"We dominated big parts of the game from a territory point of view and we got rewarded for that pressure with a couple of yellow cards, and we got points after that."