The Hurricanes beat the Highlanders 17-11 in a fierce Super Rugby Aotearoa clash at Sky Stadium, Wellington.
Tries from TJ Perenara, Kobus van Wyk and Devon Flanders saw the Hurricanes home in a game Jason Holland’s men dominated throughout.
Aaron smith crossed for the Landers’ only try, while Mitchell Hunt kicked two penalties.
The Hurricanes took a deserved 12-0 lead into the break after tries from Perenara and Van Wyk and a Jordie Barrett conversion.
Flanders crashed over eight minutes after the restart following two series of attacks that combined for 40 phases.
The Highlanders were brave; they had to make more than a hundred more tackles than their hosts while enjoying only 30% possession and territory.
They could not make their
Hunt landed a 51st-minute penalty to put the visitors on the scoreboard.
Aaron Smith, who had a try chalked off early in the game, got his score seven minutes later after combining with co-captain Ash Dixon from a driving maul.
Aaron Mauger’s men will rue missed opportunities; poor goal-kicking, a leaky lineout and poor handling added to the blunt attack and leaky defence. They
can have no qualms with the end result, the opposition was better in every department.
Hunt landed a last-minute penalty in an attempt to score from the restart and win an unlikely victory, but, in reality, this was never going to happen.
Hurricanes dominate the first half but take almost half-an-hour to get points on the board.
Both teams had tries chalked off by the TMO for obstruction inside the opening six minutes.
The first, by Aaron Smith, was controversial and harsh on the visitors and their skipper Dixon.
Dixon was adjudged to have obstructed Du’Plessis Kirifi during Mitch Hunt’s scathing break from deep inside the Landers’ half, but it was a poor call.
Less than two minutes later, the hosts had a score taken off the board following an obstruction on Shannon Frizell by Flanders, which opened up a hole for Ngani Laumape to score.
This was a better call from the officials after the previous one, but the crowd – and Canes – were not happy.
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The contest remained scoreless despite both teams having several good scoring opportunities.
Eventually, Perenara opened the scoring on just before the half-hour. It was a classic halfback try.
Perenara, at the ruck, threw an outrageous dummy, selling his opposite number and fellow All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith, before darting under the posts.
Barrett added the extras.
Mitch Hunt missed a penalty attempt soon afterwards, pushing his kick wide right as the visitors remained scoreless.
On 36 minutes, Van Wyk barged his way over to score in the corner after Barrett’s line-break and long, double skip-pass.
The TMO looked for a foot in touch by the winger, but the South African flyer got the ball down before his foot hit the chalk.
Barrett could not convert but his team had a commanding 12-nil lead into the shed.
Hurricanes blow the Highlanders away after the break.
Holland’s charges came out of the halftime break firing.
They were patient and broke the backs of the Otago men with back-to-back 23-phase and 17-phase attacks that ended with Flanders flopping over the whitewash.
Mitch Hunt, back up after some friendly fire in the lead-up to Flanders’ try, put his team on the board with a penalty, three minutes later.
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The visitors started to build momentum with a series of sustained attacks. They kept possession and won penalties, which led to Aaron Smith getting his try on the hour.
The Highlanders won a penalty after a high shot and kicked to the corner.
They went to their maul, shifting from left to right. Dixon, looking up and seeing the two on one, sent Smith away in the corner.
Hunt’s conversion drifted wide.
The Highlanders’ pack kept their team in the game with a series of scrum-penalties at important times; however, the Dunedin side was starting to tire from all defending.
Barrett should have scored on 67 minutes, but the ball bounced off his face and was dotted down for a 22 drop-out.
Holland’s men milked the clock as they eased to a well deserved and, ultimately, comfortable derby victory.
Hunt did kick a 79th-minute penalty as his team searched for the win, but it was not to be.
The Hurricanes move above the Highlanders into third place on the Super Rugby Aotearoa with their second win of the season.
Final Score: Hurricanes 17 (12) Highlanders 11 (0)
Tries – Perenara, Van Wyk, Flanders
Con – J. Barrett
Tries – A. Smith
Pen – M. Hunt (2)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 2: Ben O’Keeffe
TMO: Mike Fraser
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 TJ Perenara (captain), 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Ben May.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Billy Proctor, 23 Wes Goosen.
15 Michael Collins, 14 Scott Gregory, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 PariPari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas.