Super Rugby

Hurricanes blow away hapless Highlanders

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The Hurricanes beat the Highlanders 41-22 in an entertaining bottom-of-the-table Super Rugby Aotearoa clash at Sky Stadium, Wellington.

The Hurricanes came from behind to blow away the Highlanders six tries to three as the Wellington side served up a forty burger on the Otago men.

Devan Flanders and Dane Coles crossed in the first half to keep Jason Holland’s side in the game before the hosts ran away in the second period.

The superb Ngani Laumape, Du’Plessis Kirifi – who was immense – Brayden Iose, and Salesi Rayasi’s also scored as the Landers crumbled in the drizzle.


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Josh Dickson, Jona Nareki, and Ash Dixon scored for Tony Brown’s beleaguered men, who fell apart at the end of the first stanza.

The proverbial ‘Battle of the Basement’ played out exactly how it should between two teams with a combined five wins this season: lots of tries in a free-flowing, entertaining match.

The Hurricanes fought back to beat a lackluster Highlanders, who played like it was the last game of the campaign.

The Canes’ bonus-point victory was not, however, enough to see them leapfrog the Landers on the log.

Highlanders keep out dominant Hurricanes but mental meltdown Gives Canes a lifeline

The visitors fell off tackles, made mental errors, and threw away a commanding lead, which made for an entertaining game.

Both teams scored two tries apiece as the Highlanders led 17-15 at halftime, but the visitor’s lead should have been more.

The Highlanders held a 10-point lead three minutes before the interval with a defensive lineout on the halfway line to come.

However, a captain’s referral by co-captains Aaron Smith and Dixon backfired spectacularly.

The co-skippers tried to have opposite captain Coles – who had earlier been yellow carded along with Mitch Hunt – sent off.

But after a TMO review, the officials deemed that Coles was not the sinner, but the saint. Billy Harmon, lying on the floor at the ruck, clung to Coles’ boot, not letting him get up.

The game had been scrappy to that point with Coles in the thick of all the handbags. The hooker called for an attacking lineout, and scored, running through Smith and Hunt in the process to pull the scores to within five.

Then a needless penalty by the Landers saw Jordie Barrett kick a penalty after the hooter to cut the gap to two points at the break.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 10 Video Highlights: Hurricanes vs Highlanders, Sky Stadium, Wellington

Hunt had opened the scoring with an early penalty, but three minutes later, Flanders’ converted try put the home team ahead.

Flanders finished off a sublime counter-attack from inside the Hurricanes’ half; Coles – who else? – made the turnover after a poor kick-chase by the Highlanders.

The hosts sent the ball wide where some good interplay between backs and forwards was finished by the number eight.

Holland’s charges began to dominate the contest and should have scored at least twice before Coles and Hunt went to the sin-bin.

The cards changed the flow of the game because only minutes later, Dickson crashed over after a series of pick and drives. Sam Gilbert took over kicking duties, converting the try.

Nareki finished off a slick attack, on the half-hour, to make it 7-17 to the Dunedin outfit (after Hunt’s conversion).

The Highlanders went to their maul, but Dixon broke away near the line. Smith got quick-ball and sent it wide to Scott Gregory, who sent Nareki away.

By now, the Landers were in full control, and it was the hosts who looked disjointed and lost.

As the half wound down, the Hurricanes got thrown a lifeline when the co-captains conspired to their own team’s downfall by being too clever by half.

Hurricanes go up a gear and run away with the game as Highlanders run out of steam

The Canes pulled away after the break as they continued to rack up points. Laumape and Kirifi’s converted tries saw the home team go 29-17 ahead, but Dixon’s try ended a run of 22 unanswered points.

Laumape beat Smith to Barrett’s weighted grubber kick to put the Hurricanes back in front.

Gilbert thought he scored had scored after Laumape’s try, but the TMO ruled out the try for a knock-on by Bryn Evans in the build-up to the score.

Du’Plessis Kirifi extended his team’s lead after a sublime linebreak by Ruben Love. The first-five danced through the Highlanders before offloading to Kirifi, who raced away.

Dixon crashed over from a patient rolling maul on the hour, but more mistakes cost the visitors.

Iose and Rayasi both finished off sublime attacks in the last 10 minutes to seal an impressive display by Holland’s side.

Iose’s score came after Laumape burst through the blue wall from his own half from a scrum to set up the 22-year-old back-rower.

Rayasi capped a good personal campaign before the hooter sounded, he slipped the returning Nehe Milner-Skudder’s tackle, rounded another defender to the delight of the home support.

Final Score: Hurricanes 41 (15) Highlanders 22 (17)

Scorers

Hurricanes
Tries – Flanders, Coles, Laumape, Kirifi, Lose, Rayasi
Pen – J. Barrett
Con – J. Barrett (4)
Drop –
Cards – Coles (Yellow, 16′)

Highlanders
Tries – Dickson, Nareki, Dixon
Pen – Hunt
Con – Gilbert, Hunt
Drop –
Cards – Hunt (Yellow, 16′)

Match Officials
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 2: Paul Williams
TMO: Brendon Pickerill

Teams

Hurricanes

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Ruben Love, 9 Luke Campbell, 8 Devan Flanders, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Xavier Numia

Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Brayden Iose, 21 Cam Roigard, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Pepesana Patafilo

Highlanders

15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Sam Gilbert, 13 Patelesio Tomkinson, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone

Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan De Groot, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Hugh Renton, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Michael Collins, 23 James Lentjes

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