Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd has slammed his team's Super Rugby loss to the Brumbies.
The early frontrunners for the title have lost three games in a row in a concerning form slump just two games out from the finals. The 24-12 defeat in Canberra means they have all but lost hope of running down the Crusaders for top spot.
Boyd called the second half failure in Canberra, where they failed to register a point, as among the worst 40 minutes since his coaching tenure began in 2015.
But he did note the Brumbies were out to keep their season alive, with a loss meaning the ACT team would be out of finals contention.
"That's probably the worst 40 minutes of football we've played in four years really," Boyd said.
"I think at the end of the day, one team was desperate to stay alive and we've already qualified for the playoffs, it's just where we're going to play and who against.
"That doesn't excuse that performance but one team had more to play for than the other."
The 2016 champions were made to pay for their indiscipline, ending up on the wrong side of a 12-6 penalty count. They also had replacement forward Blade Thompson sin-binned in the 55th minutes.
In better news for the Hurricanes, they could get three of the four star players who missed the game back for their home clash with the Blues next Saturday.
Boyd said he expected captain Brad Shields and All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Vaea Fifita back for the Kiwi derby.
The clear highlight against the Brumbies for the Hurricanes was captain TJ Perenara scoring a freak try by diving to intercept a Joe Powell pass in the corner.