Cape Town - The Highlanders have beaten the Hurricanes 17-16 in their Super Rugby clash at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring early – Beauden Barrett slotting a penalty after Aaron Smith was penalised for holding onto the ball on the ground.
The home side didn’t wait long to strike back though. Malakai Fekitoa showing great strength as he shrugged off two tacklers before diving over after Lima Sopoaga did well to draw in a couple of defenders before offloading to his on-rushing team-mate.
Sopoaga missed the conversion but soon added a penalty which gave the hosts an 8-3 lead. The two pivots then traded penalties which meant the Highlanders led 11-6 at half-time.
The Hurricanes stepped up a gear after the break but it was the Highlanders who scored the first points after the break – Sopoaga on target from the kicking tee again which meant they held a 14-6 lead by the 50th minute.
The visitors soon narrowed the gap when their captain TJ Perenara dived over after spotting a gap close to the Highlanders tryline.
The final minutes were frantic as the Hurricanes tried to strike back, but the Highlanders did well to keep them at bay with a solid defensive effort to get that first win of the year.
Highlanders - Tries: Malakai Fekitoa. Penalties: Lima Sopoaga (3), Hayden Parker
Hurricanes - Try: TJ Perenara. Conversion: Beauden Barrett. Penalties: Barrett (3)
15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Shane Christie (co-captain), 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Brendon Edmonds
Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Jason Emery
15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (captain), 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Blade Thomson, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Reggie Goodes
Substitutes: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Jason Woodward, 23 Willis Halaholo