Super Rugby: Highlanders recover to beat Bulls in Dunedin
Last Updated: 11/04/14 2:35pm
The Highlanders recovered from a 13-3 deficit to keep their Super Rugby hopes alive with a 27-20 victory over the Bulls in Dunedin.
The win moves the Highlanders into fifth in the overall table, and puts them second in the New Zealand conference having played the same number of games as the Hurricanes and Chiefs.
A try from Bjorn Basson helped the Bulls into an early 13-3 advantage in the first 20 minutes of the match - with the big score coming after a lovely blindside scrum move that saw Piet van Zyl set him up.
At this point it seemed the Bulls were showing the signs of upsetting the Highlanders in what surprisingly was their first fixture against a South African side this season.
However, the Highlanders recovered with an impressive spell that saw Lima Sopoaga go over from a Shaun Treeby pass that was touched in flight by a Bulls player. That converted score on 32 minutes pulled the hosts back to within three before Sopoaga slotted a leveller.
The recovery continued after the restart as the Highlanders turned the screw against a Bulls squad that looked fatigued after a recent test against the Hurricanes, one where they had to put in a lot of work defensively. And they were subsequently punished as the home side.
First it was blindside flanker Gareth Evans with a try down the left wing that saw the Highlanders take the lead for the first time in the game, with outstanding centre Malakai Fekitoa setting him up before he turned from provider to scorer on 54 minutes.
Fekitoa has become the signing of the season so far and that aforementioned finish as he came back on a switch put the Highlanders 27-13 to the good, which was how it stayed until the final seconds when Marcel van der Merwe crossed to hand the Bulls the losing bonus.
Super Rugby 2014 Round 9
New Zealand legend Brad Thorn looks set to miss the rest of the season with the Highlanders after tearing his bicep.
Israel Folau fears he could be out of action for as long as six months because of his throat injury.
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