Cowan laments loss

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Sunday, March 21, 2010    Getty Images

There was a controversial finish to the game when, with four minutes left, replacement wing Fetu'u Vainikolo was denied a try by television match official Colin Hawke in a close decision.

The Highlanders were trailing 16-23 and their desolation was made complete when Adrian Jacobs scored an intercept try just before the final hooter to deprive them of even a bonus point.

"It was unfortunate the try didn't get awarded because it would obviously have put us right back in the game," Cowan said. "But that's hindsight."

"We had a lot of territory in the first half but we didn't get any reward for it. We've only got ourselves to blame. We're still making silly errors in our own half.

"The Sharks tries all came from our mistakes and we're very disappointed about that."

Cowan said there were few positives for the Highlanders from the game.

"It was a lacklustre performance. We started to slip off tackles in the second half and defence has been one of our hallmarks.

"It's also happened in the previous two games and it's something we're going to have to rectify if we want to be a contender in this competition."

Sharks captain John Smit described the win as 'special'.

"Dunedin's been a very special place for us over the years but I don't think any of the other victories we've had mean quite what this one does.

"It was a long way for the Highlanders to come back from Africa. We capitalised on that in the second spell. My boys needed this win and they've stuck together for a long time.

"We've got to capitalise on this win now and go on to bigger things. We've got to realise that we can't leave it to the last minute and that's what we've got to keep on doing."

The Sharks, who now have eight points, will play the Hurricanes in round seven. The Highlanders, who remain on six points, will play the Lions at Carisbrook next Friday.