Super Rugby Aotearoa: Hurricanes hold off Highlanders for 17-11 win
Super Rugby Aotearoa continues with two more matches on Sky Sports Action next weekend. Watch Hurricanes vs Blues on Saturday (7.30am) and Chiefs vs Highlanders on Sunday (4am).
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 12/07/20 4:34pm
TJ Perenara, Kobus Van Wyk and Devan Flanders crossed for tries as the Hurricanes defeated the Highlanders 17-11 in Sunday's Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Wellington.
The Hurricanes led 12-0 after a strong first half which set up their win and although they had 70 per cent of possession after the break, they were outscored by the Highlanders.
The match featured an outstanding contest between the All Blacks scrum-halves Aaron Smith and Perenara who both scored tries.
Highlanders No 9 Smith had the early upper hand, harassing Perenara around the fringes of rucks and mauls and making several threatening breaks.
But Perenara struck a major blow when he sold Smith a dummy in the 28th minute, sent him wide then cut through the resulting inside gap to score the Hurricanes first try.
Smith had his revenge in the 58th minute when, with the Highlanders trailing 17-3, he broke around the unguarded short side of an attacking maul to score and keep his team in the match.
The first half featured a myriad of line breaks or half breaks by both teams which kept defences on alert. But an inability to link and to finish kept the score down, also due to some strong scrambling defence from both teams.
Both teams had a try disallowed for obstruction within the first six minutes. Smith should have scored after four minutes when he finished a long-range break by fly-half Mitch Hunt. However, the referee ruled out the try for a marginal obstruction by Highlanders captain Ash Dixon.
Two minutes later, Ngani Laumape scored for the Hurricanes but the try was again chalked off - this time for an obstruction.
Perenara and Smith's tries came from rare defensive lapses. The Hurricanes also managed tries through winger Van Wyk and flanker Flanders, one of their best ball-carriers, but had to control the ball through more than 15 phases to break down the Highlanders defence.
Hunt kicked a penalty just before the final siren to cut the lead to six points and give the Highlanders a faint chance of a come-from-behind win. But the Hurricanes snatched a Highlanders line-out in stoppage time to end the game.
The Highlanders have now not won since they upset the Chiefs in the opening round while Hurricanes made it back-to-back wins.