In an entertaining and thrilling match, played at great intensity and pace, the teams score four tries each.
However, a Beauden Barrett penalty sealed the win for the Hurricanes.
Flank Ardie Savea was in inspiring form, as he scored two of the Hurricanes’ four tries and prevented the Highlanders crossing the line at least once, with his ferocious defence in a frantic match that went down to the wire.
The Highlanders had three line-outs after the full-time siren but could not break through, slumping to their first loss at Forsyth Barr Stadium since March 4, 2017.
“Obviously the guys are hurting,” captain Luke Whitelock said after a fourth straight loss for the Highlanders.
“But it’s a long competition and we’re just going to make sure we rock up (to training) Sunday and prepare well for the Crusaders next week.”
The result gives the Hurricanes five wins from eight matches and skipper Thomas Perenara said it restored confidence after a 8-32 loss to Crusaders last week.
“We played better footy and didn’t make as many errors down their end of the field, which is something we did last week,” he said.
“We had to look at ourselves and take our opportunities and tonight we did.”
It was an end-to-end start, with both sides enjoying early chances under the closed roof but squandering them through forward passes and handling errors.
The Highlanders drew first blood when Shannon Frizell barged over the line, but Thomas Perenara hit back on the next play to lock the scores at 7-all.
The home team’s forwards then exerted control as hooker Ash Dixon scored from a driving maul only for Savea to level again with a length-of-the-field intercept try just before the break.
James Lentjes added a fourth from another line-out drive but Savea ensured it was not one-way traffic when he stepped around three defenders and narrowed the gap to 28-24.
Ngani Laumape put the Hurricanes ahead and they held on for the win even though lock Liam Mitchell was sin-binned as they defended the Highlanders’ late flurry of line-outs.
Man of the match: Ben Smith again showed his class, while Shannon Frizell made another big statement about a starting place in the All Black team. Marty Banks was the puppet master for the Highlanders – pulling the strings that got them on the front foot time-and-again. Ben Lam was pure power, while Ardie Savea was good value for his two tries and wins our award.
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