Whitelock inches from tryline triumph
Last updated 05:00 29/03/2011
Another couple of metres and George Whitelock would have been wallowing in glory.
With two minutes left on the clock the Crusaders blindside flanker-cum-lock grabbed the ball from a Sharks ruck, looked up and hared off like a guilty thief.
The only problem was, he had to run about 95m to score. Remarkably, he almost got there.
"I was just thinking I had to get there – it was a long way. The ball just popped out, everyone just stood around and I took off," Whitelock said afterwards.
But just as Whitelock got a whiff of the tryline, a despairing tackle by Sharks No6 Keegan Daniel denied him what would have been one of the tries of the season. Referee Steve Walsh awarded a penalty at the subsequent breakdown to the Sharks.
Whitelock's dash was memorable for several reasons: he had already endured 78 minutes of a high-tempo match and he was playing at lock after younger brother Sam hobbled off with an ankle injury several minutes earlier to leave the Crusaders down to 14 men.
"I saw `Issey' (Israel Dagg) on the inside just as I was about go to deck, and I thought `I could have thrown it'."
Whitelock, was captain of the side after skipper Kieran Read and his deputy Dan Carter, both left the field injured.
"I probably should have just pinned my ears back instead of looking back a couple of times, but that's life.
"There wasn't a lot of energy left but that's what happens."