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Bonus-point Highlanders hang on to beat the Blues

Ben Smith on the break for the Highlanders

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Article Published: Saturday 26 May 2012|

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The Highlanders provisionally moved back into the top six in the Super Rugby standings when they held on to beat the Blues 20-27 with a bonus point in Auckland.

The Highlanders victory is their second at Eden Park in Auckland after they last beat the Blues 13-20 at the venue ten years ago in May 2002.

The teams were playing for the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy which was retained by the Highlanders.

The Highlanders led 6-15 at half time and Adam Thomson scored the bonus point try in the 60th minute.

The Blues mounted a late surge as they brought on replacements Ali Williams, Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu who got them to within 7 points and earned the Blues a losing bonus point.

Williams came on to make his 100th Super Rugby appearance.

Winger Hosea Gear pressed his case for an All Blacks recall when he scored two tries with his second being his 100th Super Rugby try.

Gear has played only eight tests for the All Blacks in a checkered four-year international career, despite being one of New Zealand's best and most consistent wingers.

He was omitted from the first 35-man All Blacks squad of the season, reportedly because he was on the verge of signing a contract to play in Japan.

Gear has since rejected Japanese offers to enforce his All Blacks claims and his try on Saturday - his sixth of the season - answered the selectors' other reported concern: that he doesn't score enough tries.

Former All Blacks center Tamati Ellison and flanker Adam Thomson also contributed tries in the Highlanders' win while the Blues made a late rally from 27-6 down with tries to props Tavita Mailau and Tony Woodcock.

The Blues suffered their 11th loss in 13 matches this season to stay one place off the bottom on the table, despite producing one of their most energetic performances.

They tried exceptionally hard and occasionally attacked well but their effort was let down, as it has been all year, by mistakes at crucial moments.

The Highlanders took charge of a match which had been even through the first 25 minutes by scoring the first try of the match through Ellison.

The former Japan-based center both began and ended the try-scoring movement, kicking from deep defense then following up after fullback Ben Smith had made an outstanding chase to pounce on the ball near the line.

Gear scored his first try in the 35th minute, taking an infield pass from winger Kurt Baker who had broken down the right-hand touch.

He scored his second try in the second minute of the second half and in similar circumstances after a damaging break by Smith before Adam Thomson secured the bonus point try.

The Blues then rallied strongly, helped by Nonu, Weepu and Williams and scored tries through Mailau and Wooodcock before time ran out.

Final Score Blues 20 (6) Highlanders 27 (15)

Scorers

Blues
Tries - T. Mailau, T Woodcock
Pen - G Anscombe 2
Con - G Anscombe. L Munro
Drop -
Cards -

Highlanders
Tries - T. Ellison, H Gear 2, A Thomson
Pen - C Noakes
Con - C Noakes 2
Drop -
Cards - P Burleigh (yellow 62nd minute)

Match Officials
Referee
: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1:Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 2:Ben Skeen
TMO : Bryce Lawrence

Teams

Blues

1. Tony Woodcock, 2. James Parsons, 3. Tevita Mailau, 4. Liaki Moli, 5. Filo Paulo, 6. Steven Luatua, 7. Luke Braid (c) / Daniel Braid, 8. Peter Saili / Luke Braid, 9. Alby Mathewson, 10. Gareth Anscombe, 11. Sherwin Stowers, 12. Michael Hobbs, 13. Francis Saili, 14. David Raikuna, 15. Hadleigh Parkes.

Replacements: 16. Tom McCartney, 17. Angus Ta'avao, 18. Ali Williams, 19. Daniel Braid / Peter Saili / Dan Pryor, 20. Piri Weepu, 21. Ma'a Nonu, 22. Lachie Munro.

Highlanders

1 Jamie Mackintosh (c) 2 Andrew Hore 3 Ma'afu Fia 4 Jarrad Hoeata 5 Hoani MacDonald 6 Adam Thomson 7 Tim Boys 8 Nick Crosswell 9 Jimmy Cowan 10 Chris Noakes 11 Hosea Gear 12 Phil Burleigh 13 Tamati Ellison 14 Kurt Baker 15 Ben Smith

Replacements : 16 Jason Rutledge 17 Bronson Murray 18 Josh Bekhuis 19 Scott Fuglistaller 20 Aaron Smith 21 Mike Delany 22 Kenny Lynn

 
 
 
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