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Highlanders

  • Hardie, Smith,
    Penalty goals: Slade (2),
    Conversions: Slade,
18 - 17

Waratahs

  • McCutcheon,
    Penalty goals: Halangahu (4),
  • Super Rugby
  • Overall Group
  • 10th Mar 2012
  • KO 06:35
  • Ground: Forsyth Barr, Dunedin

Perfect Highlanders hang on

Slade kicks match-winning penalty with 15 minutes remaining

Last updated: 10th March 2012   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Perfect Highlanders hang on

Aaron Smith: scored the game's first try

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Tries from John Hardie and Aaron Smith helped the Highlanders maintain their perfect start to the season with an 18-17 win over the Waratahs.

Otago were far from impressive, missing a total of 11 points through kicks, but still managed to hang on to make it three victories in a row.

A penalty by New Zealand fly-half Colin Slade with 15 minutes remaining proved the difference as the hosts turned around a half-time deficit in Dunedin.

The Waratahs, who welcomed back Berrick Barnes for his first appearance of the season, did cross through Pat McCutcheon, while Daniel Halangahu kicked the rest of their points.

Early infringements

The fly-half broke the deadlock with a penalty after just three minutes and with the Highlanders continuing to fall foul of the referee, he kicked the visitors into a 6-0 lead after the opening quarter-of-an-hour.

However the home team responded in emphatic fashion to falling further behind, a quick tap penalty leading to them scoring the first try.

Smith linked with John Hardie and took the last pass from Lima Sopoaga to score under the posts, though Sopoaga's straightforward conversion attempt somehow rebounded from the left upright.

The fly-half left the field soon after with a shoulder injury but his absence didn't break the momentum of the Highlanders, who battered away at their opponents for long periods.

The Waratahs, though, provided the next points with a Halangahu penalty from 40 metres out, opening up a 9-5 lead after 37 minutes.

Slade responded in kind before the break, his injury-time effort meaning there was just a point splitting the teams as they went in at the interval.

Golden chance

The Highlanders had a golden chance to take the lead early in the second spell but Slade dragged his penalty attempt to the left. Things then got even worse for the All Black when his left-footed clearance was charged down by McCutcheon, who gathered the loose ball to score.

The flanker's efforts came at a price, however, as he badly injured his ankle in scoring the try and had to taken from the field on a stretcher.

The Highlanders struck back eight minutes into the half when, after numerous phases, they moved the ball quickly left and Hardie scored in the corner. Slade converted splendidly and the Highlanders were 15-14 in front.

Halangahu's fourth penalty five minutes later put the 'Tahs ahead by two again but they couldn't hold on, a furious Highlanders attack giving Slade the chance to kick the match-winnning penalty.

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Phil Edwards

Phil Edwards

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