The Highlanders named an unchanged starting XV after their plucky outing against the champion Crusaders outfit last weekend. Aaron Smith was celebrating his 150th game for the Southerners and Ash Dixon joined the centurion club.

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For the Hurricanes, who were on a hot streak of 5 wins in a row, Billy Proctor, Chase Tiatia and Jamie Booth were brought into the backline, Dane Coles was up front to captain in the absence of TJ Perenara.

Defying logic, the Hurricanes, a team who normally wear gold chose to wear their blue alternate strip against a team that wears blue. The Hurricanes were called back for three denied tries and Highlanders pushed out in the second half against the tiring visitors for a 38-21 win.

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After bursting on to the scene for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby 2019, the energetic flanker has caught the eye of rugby fans with his ability to get over the ball and handy support lines.

How did the winning side’s players rate in the final game of Super Rugby Aotearoa?

1. Ayden Johnstone – 7

Solid at scrum, some good distribution and running at first/second receiver. Off in 46th minute.

2. Ash Dixon – 7.5

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Lineout maestro, genuine leader and a popular try-scorer off a rolling maul at 33 minutes. This week it was Josh McKay who was the recipient of his 22-metre long throw. Off in 56th minute.

3. Siate Tokolahi – 7

Highlanders scrum stayed solid and both starting props averaged 2 metres a carry. Off in 46th minute.

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4. Pari Pari Parkinson – 6

Obviously wasn’t 100% after last week, succumbed to his dodgy sticks again after 39 minutes.

5. Jack Whetton – 8

His dropped ball led to Aso’s try. Came back though with some good work around the park and major component in the Highlanders’ purring lineout. Classic tight forward’s run up the middle at 45 minutes for Collins try and top tackler. Off in 70th minute.

6. Shannon Frizell – 6.5

His first-up tackle on Prinsep was a real “who’s your Daddy?’ moment. Relatively quiet game otherwise. Has become a solid lineout option. Had a nice little ding-dong with Ardie Savea around 68 minutes where he got bumped off by Savea then moments later crash tackled the Hurricanes number 8. Revenge was sweet!

7. Dillon Hunt – 7

Good work in tight exchanges in mopping up, solid on ‘D’ and kept Kirifi honest in a bonafide battle of the terriers at the breakdown.

8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u – 7.5

Back to his effervescent best with ball in hand after a quiet shift last week. 47 metres off 6 carries but just 1 tackle. Off in 63rd minute.

9. Aaron Smith – 8

Is the real heartbeat of the team and led more like a statesman than a yappy dictator this week. Creates so much from the base and picks runners well. Off in 72nd minute.

10. Josh Ioane – 7

Good under the high ball, not completely confident in defence stationed on the wing at the set-piece. Always a threat at the line with ball in hand. Off in 62nd minute.

11. Jona Nareki – 7

Off at 5 minutes for some patching up, back on at 18. The team used his left boot well to get out of their 22. Great work up the middle for Michael Collins’ try.

12. Patelesio Tomkinson – 7

Good all-round game; he’s had a good, consistent season.

13. Michael Collins – 7.5

Is growing in confidence with more time in the 13 jersey. Made some real yards, 62 metres in 9 carries.

14. Josh McKay – 6.5

Just doesn’t seem to get the space he needs with ball in hand. Very evasive player, some good passing skills and tackles well.

15. Mitch Hunt – 7

Got himself involved in the line in the first try to Punivai. Showed he has some real pace with some velocity down the right flank to score at 61 minutes. Very solid player with few weaknesses.

Reserves:

16. Liam Coltman 6.5

On in 56th minute. Good turnover at 66 minutes to snuff out a Hurricanes attack.

17. Daniel Lienert-Brown – 7

On in 46th minute. Solid defence.

18. Jeff Thwaites – 7

On in 46th minute. Put in some good defence.

19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit – 7.5

All action figure after his introduction at 39 minutes. Some significant carries, top tackles and soared high at lineout time.

20. Teariki Ben-Nicolas – N/A

On in 63rd minute.

21. Folau Fakatava – N/A

On in 72nd minute.

22. Ngatungane Punivai – 7

Came on for 13 minutes in the first half, good introduction with a strong run then, moments later, scored a well-taken try. Then on again at 62nd minute, a bit more quiet in the second shift.

23. Tom Florence – 6

On in 70th minute and got one big hit in at 78 minutes. One for the future.

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