Final - Hurricanes v Highlanders, 4 July, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
This game is living up to and exceeding all expectations, both sides are playing nothing short of top draw rugby at an absolutely frenetic pace. After a long opening period of play it was the Hurricanes who blinked first with Liam Coltman earning a breakdown penalty for Lima Sopoaga to open the scoring with. What followed was 25 minutes of fast paced ball in hand, end to end footy with both teams running and tackling hard before Sopoaga slotted his second penalty goal from 50 metres out and entended the lead to 6-0. It took until the 35th minute for the Hurricanes to find their reply with Ma'a Nonu going over on the wing after an extended period of pick-and-gos from the home side close to our line, Beauden Barrett unable to convert. But the Highlanders were not done and Elliot Dixon, playing his 50th Super Rugby game, took four defenders with him as he stormed towards the tryline to plant the ball as the hooter sounded! Sopoaga added the extra 2-points from the sideline to complete his 100% successful first half with the boot. This is the stuff of legends and we have one of the biggest 40 minutes in Highlander's rugby history to come!
The Hurricanes opened the scoring early in the second with a Barrett penalty goal only for the Highlanders to return fire with a try to Waisake Naholo, conversion unsuccessful. On the 55th minute mark Barrett knocked over another penalty to close down the deficit to 7-points. It took only another 10 minutes of play before Barrett knocked over another 3-pointer after a period dominated by the home side territory and possession-wise and then there was only 4-points in it. The Highlanders then took control of possession and slowed the game down through pick- and-go set pieces in an effort to wind down the clock. After what seemed an age of time had passed, substitute first-five, Marty Banks, slotted a clutch drop goal to extend the lead back out to 7-points. The Highlanders then finished off the game by keeping the ball in hand until the buzzer sounded and they cemented their place in Super Rugby history with their first ever Championship victory.
WE ARE THE MIGHTY HIGHLANDERS!!!
HALF TIME: HUR:5 - HIG:13
FULL TIME: HUR:14 - HIG:21
Tries - M.Nonu.
Pen - B.Barrett 3
Tries - E.Dixon, W.Naholo
Pen - L.Sopoaga 2
Con - L.Sopoaga
Drop - M.Banks