Highlanders

Highlanders crowned 2015 Super Rugby Champions

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The Highlanders won their first Super Rugby title by beating the
Hurricanes 14-21 in a frenetic Super Rugby final at Wellington’s
Westpac Stadium.

The closest the highlanders got to a Super Rugby title before this was in 1999
when they were beaten by the Crusaders in the final at their home ground in
Dunedin.

Highlanders flanker Elliot Dixon was named man of the match after scoring a try and setting up Waisake Naholo for his try.

The Highlanders led the Hurricanes 5-13 at half time after a try by Elliot
Dixon, two penalties and a conversion from Lima Sopoaga.

The Hurricanes could have been in front at half time but Beauden Barrett missed
two penalties and the conversion on Ma’a Nonu’s try.

Having only lost two matches all season and with home advantage the Hurricanes
went into the final as strong favourites.

The Highlanders band of rejects led the match throughout and forced the Hurricanes
to chase the game and cemented their fairytale season with the Super Rugby crown.

The historic title for the Highlanders is only the fifth time in the 20-year
history of Super rugby that the home team has been beaten in the final of the
southern hemisphere club competition.

The composite team from the south, with co-captain Ben Smith the only member
born in the Highlanders catchment area, ventured north to the Hurricanes Westpac
Stadium and scored two tries to one.

From the opening three minutes of helter-skelter rugby, which ended with a
penalty to Lima Sopoaga to open the scoring for the Highlanders, to a final
drop goal by Marty Banks, the game was played at a relentless pace.

It was a game packed with emotion with neither side having previously won the
championship.

The Hurricanes, pacesetters all year, were also farewelling a band of senior
players including All Blacks Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Ben Franks and Jeremy
Thrush.

They played with the initials JC stitched on their jerseys in memory of former
teammate Jerry Collins who was recently killed in a car accident in France.

Fielding 10 players with Test experience, the Hurricanes dominated territory
and possession only to be outplayed by a Highlanders unit, with only three experienced
All Blacks, who belied their reputation as a team of unwanted no bodies.

Sopoaga moved to the Highlanders from Wellington to escape the shadow of Beauden
Barrett, and Banks, who sealed the outcome at the end when the ‘Canes had closed
to within four points, is another Hurricanes reject.

Elliot Dixon, who joined the franchise from the Crusaders, won man of the match
after scoring the crucial try on half-time.

Dixon again featured after the resumption of play when he drew two defenders
to put Waisake Naholo over.

Naholo, the top try scorer in the competition his year signed up for the Hurricanes
after being rejected by the Blues

Ma’a Nonu scored the Hurricanes sole try in the 35th minute but after that
they were never to breach the Highlanders defence with Barrett providing the
rest of their points from three penalties.

The Hurricanes are now the only New Zealand team not to have won a Super Rugby
title.

Final Score Hurricanes 14 (5) Highlanders 21 (13)

Scorers

Hurricanes 
Tries – M.Nonu. 
Pen – B.Barrett 3
Con – 
Drop – 
Cards –

Highlanders
Tries – E.Dixon, W.Naholo
Pen – L.Sopoaga 2
Con – L.Sopoaga 
Drop – M.Banks 
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 1:Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 2:Craig Joubert
TMO : Ben Skeen

Teams

Hurricanes

1.Reggie Goodes , 2.Dane Coles , 3.Ben Franks , 4.Jeremy Thrush , 5.James Broadhurst , 6.Brad Shields , 7. Callum Gibbins , 8.Victor Vito , 9.TJ Perenara , 10.Beauden Barrett , 11.Julian Savea , 12.Ma’a Nonu , 13.Conrad Smith (c) , 14.Nehe Milner-Skudder , 15.James Marshall

Replacements: 16.Motu Matu’u , 17.Chris Eves , 18.Jeffery Toomaga-Allen , 19. Mark Abbott , 20.Blade Thomson , 21.Chris Smylie , 22.Rey Lee-Lo , 23.Matt Proctor

Highlanders

1. Brendon Edmonds , 2. Liam Coltman , 3. Josh Hohneck , 4. Alex Ainley , 5. Mark Reddish , 6. Elliot Dixon , 7. James Lentjes , 8. Nasi Manu (cc) , 9. Aaron Smith , 10. Lima Sopoaga , 11. Patrick Osborne , 12. Richard Buckman , 13. Malakai Fekitoa , 14. Waisake Naholo , 15. Ben Smith (cc)

Replacements: 16. Ash Dixon , 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown , 18. Ross Geldenhuys , 19. Joe Wheeler , 20. Gareth Evans , 21. Shane Christie , 22. Fumiaki Tanaka , 23. Marty Banks

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