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Blues fight off Highlanders in tense Super Rugby Pacific victory

By AAP
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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A Highlanders comeback has fallen short in a 32-25 loss in Dunedin to the Blues that consigned them to a fifth-straight Super Rugby Pacific loss this season.

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The winless hosts trailed 18-3 at halftime, despite the Blues losing All Blacks star Beauden Barrett to concussion.

They scored three second-half tries and were pushed into touch in the final minute attempting to cross for a fourth that would have levelled the scores.

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The Blues were slick early then held on late, Barrett’s replacement Stephen Perofeta’s counter-attacking try with 14 minutes remaining pushing them ahead 32-18.

The victory moves the Blues (3-1) above the Western Force to sixth ahead of a Tuesday catch-up fixture against Moana Pasifika.

Barrett, 30, had only just returned following a concussion suffered in a Test against Ireland in November.

He was taken from the field in the 41st minute after a high-speed collision with hard-running Highlanders centre Fetuli Paea.

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Forsyth Barr Stadium was typically raucous as more than 7500 enjoyed the return of crowds to New Zealand Super clashes.

Fullback Sam Gilbert scored twice for the Highlanders.

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