An Ardie Savea-inspired Hurricanes survived a late fightback to end Highlanders’ two-year home win streak on Friday, while a yellow card for Stormers captain Siya Kolisi proved costly against the Reds.
Flank Savea scored two of the Hurricanes’ four tries in a 31-28 victory at Dunedin in a frantic match that went to the wire.
The Highlanders had three lineouts after the fulltime siren, but could not break through, slumping to their first loss at the Forsyth Barr Stadium since March 4, 2017.
In Brisbane, Kolisi’s 10 minutes off the field was decisive with the Reds getting two touchdowns in his absence on their way to a 24-12 win.
The Stormers’ pain was made worse by three disallowed tries.
All the points at Suncorp Stadium came in the second half after a scoreless opening 40 minutes – the first time this has happened in Super Rugby since 2013.
The result in Dunedin gave the Hurricanes five wins from eight matches, and skipper TJ Perenara said it restored confidence after a heavy defeat to Crusaders last week.
“We played better footy and didn’t make as many errors down their end of the field, which is something we did last week,” he said.
“We had to look at ourselves and take our opportunities, and tonight we did.”
The Highlanders drew first blood when Shannon Frizell barged over, but Perenara quickly hit back.
The home team’s forwards then exerted control as hooker Ash Dixon scored from a driving maul, only for Savea to level again with a length-of-the-field intercept try just before the break.
The Highlanders were missing injured All Black Aaron Smith, but Kayne Hammington proved an able replacement at halfback, scoring his side’s third try from the back of a scrum.
James Lentjes added a fourth, but Savea ensured it was not one-way traffic when he stepped around three defenders and narrowed the gap to 28-24.
Ngani Laumape put the Hurricanes ahead, and they held on for the win as they defended the Highlanders’ late flurry of lineouts.
Highlanders v Hurricanes | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 8 Highlights— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) April 5, 2019
In a nail-biting finish the @Hurricanesrugby hold on to get the 31-28 victory over the @Highlanders in a thrilling NZ derby in Dunedin.#SuperRugby #HIGvHUR pic.twitter.com/yEGtXBtTX6
Both teams in Brisbane were coming off defeats after the Reds were thumped by the Rebels last weekend and the Stormers crashed to the Blues in Auckland.
“I spoke about starting well (in the second half), we didn’t do that last week, and it was something we wanted to do today,” said Reds captain Samu Kerevi.
“I’m really proud of the boys.”
Kolisi admitted his yellow card was a deciding factor.
“We started well and created a lot of opportunities, but obviously the yellow card made a huge difference,” he said.
“That was the turning point.”
Reds v Stormers | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 8 Highlights— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) April 5, 2019
The @Reds_Rugby stepped up after the break to put three tries over the line, beating @THESTORMERS 24-12 in a tough battle in Brisbane.#SuperRugby #REDvSTO pic.twitter.com/Q7IGQOroa6
The Stormers, who rested Springboks forwards Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, had the early momentum and Damian Willemse thought he had the first points when he got under a box kick, only to dot down on the dead-ball line.
There was more agony minutes later when wing Sergeal Petersen dived over for a try, only for replays to show he stepped out of play just before grounding the ball.
There were few other opportunities, before Kolisi was penalised for holding on at the breakdown seconds before halftime.
With an extra man at the restart, Kerevi and Brandon Paenga-Amosa scored tries and Bryce Hegarty booted the conversions.
When Kolisi returned, the Stormers pulled one back through Kobus van Dyk, only for Reds scrumhalf Tate McDermott to catch them napping soon after, taking a quick penalty and darting over.
Damian de Allende got a late consolation for the Stormers, but another disallowed try, from Kolisi, summed up their night.
They have now lost the first three of their four-match Australasian tour, with the Melbourne Rebels up next.AFP