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Highlanders blow away Hurricanes
04 Jul 2015 12:12
Hurricanes 14-21 Highlanders
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Eliot Dixon scored one try and set up another for Waisake Naholo as the Otago Highlanders beat the Wellington Hurricanes 21-14 to win their first Super Rugby title on Saturday. Lima Sopoaga completely outplayed his All Blacks opposite Beauden Barrett with a superb kicking game and slotted two penalties and a conversion for the visitors, before Marty Banks slotted a 78th-minute dropgoal to seal the win. The Hurricanes, who had topped the regular season table, were unable to exert themselves on much of the game with the Highlanders slowing down their ball at the breakdown and playing the game at their own pace. The home side also made numerous errors and wasted a wealth of possession with sloppy handling and accuracy while attempting to play too much rugby inside their own territory.
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Dixon, who was easily the best player on the field, had given his side a 13-5 lead at half-time with a 40th-minute try. He drove through four defenders but appeared unsure if he had grounded the ball as he reached out in the tackle but television match official Ben Skeen advised referee Peyper to award the try, which was converted by Sopoaga. The match was played at a frenetic pace with Sopoaga's fifth-minute penalty the only points in the first quarter despite both sides hammering away at each other.
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Sopoaga added a second penalty in the 29th minute to give his side a 6-0 advantage before Hurricanes centre Ma'a Nonu crashed over for his side's only first-half points shortly before Dixon's score.
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Barrett, who had missed three shots at the goal in the first half as the home team failed to build any scoreboard pressure, slotted three penalties in the second to drag his side back into the game, though the Highlanders shut the game down in the last eight minutes to hold on for the victory.
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