On a Sunday afternoon showdown at Sky Stadium in Wellington, the Highlanders and Hurricanes had the chance to drag themselves back to a 50% record in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

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The Hurricanes had lost two at a row at home and the Highlanders last victory at the Caketin was in their Super Rugby final victory in 2015.

The Hurricanes made the most of their dominance 10 minutes either side of halftime and came away with the victory 17-11.

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Roger Tuivasa-Sheck playing for Blues U18

Here’re the Highlanders player ratings.

1. Ayden Johnstone – 6

Solid in the set piece but can give up any dreams to play on the wing after van Wyk glided past him halfway through the first half. Off at 48

2. Ash Dixon – 7.5

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Workaholic and led from the front, 12 tackles and continued his sterling line out throwing. A career in darts beckons? Off at 63.

3. Siate Tokolahi – 6.5

Scrummed well and was strong at the breakdown. Off at 63.

4. Pari Pari Parkinson – 7

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Really getting his carrying game back and always an excellent source of line out pill. Off at 67

5. Jack Whetton – 7

Good play from Whetton who got a starting chance after Josh Dickson’s injury. 10 tackles, stopped Ardie Savea 5 metres out from his line in the 16th minute then a big hit led to a Dillon Hunt turnover. Off at 48.

6. Shannon Frizell – 5.5

Solid but not the spectacular, dynamic performance that the southern men needed. Shrugged off a big hit from Aumua with a strong run at 33 minutes. Three carries and 5 tackles not a great day at the office.

7. Dillon Hunt – 6.5

Lively from the openside. Good save to force a 22 after an attacking grubber at 20 minutes. Had a great battle with Kirifi and snaffled some turnovers. Shoulder and eye injuries saw him off at 46 minutes.

8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u – 6

As with Frizell the Highlanders needed some yards and go-forward from their quality loosies but the Hurricanes were on to them.

9. Aaron Smith – 7

Good showdown with TJ Perenara and tit for tat tries. Put his body on the line with a tackle count in double figures.

10. Mitch Hunt – 7

The game really came to Hunt and he didn’t miss his opportunities. Ripped a hole in defence

for the Aaron Smith disallowed try early on. Top running metres in the match and had Aumua smash him a couple of times but the tough little nut got up and carried on. A couple of black marks either side of halftime pulled his rating back for me. The missed touch off a penalty just before half-time, and then failing to exit off the second half kickoff.

11. Jona Nareki – 6

Quiet early on but finally got some space in the last quarter.

12. Patelesio Tomkinson – 7.5

Did some real grunt work with top tackles for the match with 15. Gutsy, physical effort.

13. Rob Thompson – 5

Got his first carry at 76 minutes. Bizarrely quiet, just couldn’t get involved.

14. Scott Gregory – 5.5

Seems to be learning about positional play both at fullback and wing. Loads of potential and seems to be more of a mid-fielder but hard to get time there at the Highlanders.

15. Michael Collins – 5.5

Again couldn’t get involved in the match. Three carries for 7 metres eerily quiet for a fullback.

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16. Liam Coltman – 5

On at 63, sadly the smooth running line out lurched to a halt after Coltman entered the fray.

17. Daniel Lienert-Brown – 6.5

On at 48. Two scrum penalties against ex-Highlander Lomax would have been satisfying.

18. Jeff Thwaites – N/A

On 63

19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit – 6

On at 48. Gave his team some impetus at the line out and a great first play holding Ben Lam up and creating a maul turnover.

20. Jesse Parete – N/A

On at 67

21. Kayne Hammington – N/A

On at 71

22. Bryn Gatland – N/A

On at 71

23. Teariki Ben-Nicolas – 5.5

On at 48 and like his big bopper loose forward mates couldn’t make a dent in the Hurricanes defence.

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