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Highlanders survive Hurricanes late comeback

Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders kicked 7 penalties and two conversions

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Article Published: Friday 21 March 2014|

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The Highlanders secured their second win of the Super Rugby season when they beat the Hurricanes 35-31 in Dunedin.

The victory is the Highlanders first at home Dunedin over the Hurricanes since 2004.

The Hurricanes outscored the Highlanders by three tries to two but Lima Sopoaga kicked seven penalties for the home side which proved to be the difference.

The Highlanders led 18-9 at half time and went out to a 23 point lead before the Hurricanes started their comeback which included three tries and two from Beauden Barrett.

Sopoaga started his 25 point haul by hitting upright with his first shot at goal from 15 metres.

He then kicked nine goals in succession - two conversions and seven penalties - before being replaced in the 62nd minute, three points short of the Highlanders' record for most points in a match.

All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett scored 26 points for the Hurricanes, four shy of the Wellington team's points-scoring record. He had two late tries as his team rallied from 35-12 down with 19 unanswered points.

Barrett also kicked two conversions and four penalties but his efforts were only good enough to earn the Hurricanes a consolation bonus point.

The Hurricanes have just one win from five games, which should put even more pressure on embattled coach Mark Hammett now that the team's playoff hopes are almost gone with less than a third of the season completed.

The Highlanders won their opening match against the Auckland-based Blues before dropping close games to the Chiefs and the Western Force.

Friday's win was their second in four games, lifting them to second behind the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference at the start of the sixth round.

"We played a good first half and we really put them under pressure," Highlanders captain Nasi Manu said.

"But I think when we came out in the second half we were guilty of defending the lead and not playing much rugby and, like a dangerous Hurricanes side, they almost caught us."

Sopoaga's outstanding kicking performance helped give the Highlanders an 18-9 lead in the first half.

Phil Burleigh and Patrick Osborne then scored second-half tries to give the Highlanders a 35-12 lead after 56 minutes.

"It was a tricky first half in which penalties ruled the day and we couldn't get into it," Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith said.

"But we felt pretty good and then we just got caught chasing the game again. We coughed up a try and there were a few 50-50 moments but good sides respond better than that."

Final Score Highlanders 35 (18) Hurricanes 31 (9)

Scorers

Highlanders
Tries - P.Burleigh, P. Osborne
Pen - L.Sopoaga 7
Con - L.Sopoaga 2
Drop -
Cards - J.Hoeata (68th min yellow)

Hurricanes
Tries - B.Franks, B.Barrett 2
Pen - B.Barrett 4
Con - B.Barrett 2
Drop -
Cards -

Match Officials
Referee:
Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 1:Kane McBride
Assistant Ref 2:Brendon Pickerill
TMO : Chris Wratt

Teams

Highlanders

1 . Kane Hames ,2 . Liam Coltman ,3 . Ma'afu Fia,4 . Brad Thorn,5 . Joe Wheeler ,6 . Elliot Dixon,7 . Shane Christie ,8 . Nasi Manu (co.captain) ,9 . Aaron Smith ,10 . Lima Sopoaga ,11 . Patrick Osborne ,12 . Phil Burleigh,13 . Malakai Fekitoa,14 . Richard Buckman ,15 . Ben Smith (co.captain)

Replacements : 16 . Ged Robinson,17 . Matias Diaz,18 . Chris King,19 . Jarrad Hoeata,20 . TJ Ioane,21 . Fumiaki Tanaka,22 . Hayden Parker,23 . Shaun Treeby

Hurricanes

1. Ben Franks,2. Dane Coles,3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen,4. Mark Reddish,5. James Broadhurst,6. Jack Lam,7. Ardie Savea,8. Faifili Levave,9. Chris Smylie,10. Beauden Barrett,11. Julian Savea,12. Hadleigh Parkes,13. Conrad Smith (c),14. Alapati Leiua,15. Marty Banks

Replacements : 16. Ash Dixon,17. Chris Eves,18. John Schwalger,19. Mark Abbott,20. Blade Thomson/Adam Hill,21. TJ Perenara,22. Matt Proctor,23. Andre Taylor

 
 
 
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