Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith was left wondering how his team lost 16-18 to the Highlanders in Wellington on Friday.
The Hurricanes scored the only try of the match in the first half and led 13-9 at half time.
However Highlanders first five Hayden Parker kicked two second half penalties and a drop goal which effectively won the match.
The Hurricanes missed two penalty kicks and had a second try disallowed in the final quarter and could not add to thier points tally.
The loss dropped the Hurricanes out of the play off places and with several tough New Zealand derby matches ahead the loss looks to have severely damaged to their playoffs hopes.
"I'm just trying to work out how we lost that," said Conrad Smith.
"It was always going to be tight, I suppose, between two very good sides.
"They're a very good defensive side."
"It became really tight early on and I suppose both sides began playing pretty conservatively."
The loss was the Hurricanes third in a row against the Highlanders who also beat them 35-31 in Dunedin earlier this season.