Super Rugby

Highlanders edge Blues in thrilling NZ derby

Cape Town - The Highlanders have beaten the Blues in a thrilling opening Week 2 New Zealand Super Rugby derby in Dunedin.

As it happened: Highlanders 41-34 Blues

The Highlanders won 41-34 after trailing 24-17 at half-time.

The Blues, who for a significant portion of the match looked like likely winners, where ultimately undone by a second half yellow card shown to replacement Antonio Kiri Kiri. During the 10 minutes Kiri Kiri spent in the sinbin, the Blues conceded 14 points.

The Highlanders scored five tries through centres Rob Thompson (2) and Tei Walden (2) and prop Siate Tokolahi. Flyhalf Lima Sopoaga added all five conversions and a penalty, while replacement Fletcher Smith also landed a penalty.

The Blues replied with four tries through flyhalf Bryn Gatland, wing Matt Duffie and a brace by No 8 Akira Ioane. Gatland was also on target with four conversions and two penalties for a personal haul of 19 points.

The Highlanders picked up four points for their victory to take an early lead in what promises to be an ultra-competitive New Zealand Conference, while the Blues picked up a point for losing by seven or fewer points.

In next weekend's Round 3 action, the Highlanders have a bye, while the Blues welcome the Chiefs to Eden Park in Auckland (Friday, March 2 at 08:35 SA time).

Teams:

Highlanders

15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Tei Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Dan Pryor, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes

Blues

15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Augustine Pulu (captain), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Murphy Taramai, 6 Glenn Preston, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman

Substitutes: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Michael Tamoaieta, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 23 Melani Nanai

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