It was a crunch match for both the Hurricanes and the Highlanders when they met at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday night, and the bumper crowd got their monies-worth with an entertaining game of rugby.
After an early penalty to the visitors it was the Highlanders who crossed the line first, with Chris Noakes, a late inclusion in the run-on side, strolling through some weak defence, and subsequently converting his own try.
All Black loose-forward Adam Thomson continued a great start from the home-side, sneaking over for their second try, but young Beauden Barrett’s boot kept the visitors in touch as they trailed 14-9 at the break.
The roles were reversed in the second stanza, with the Highlanders relying on penalty goals to keep the scoreboard ticking over, and the enterprising ‘Canes scoring the tries.
With five minutes remaining the home side was ahead 20-19, before Julian Savea steamed on to a short-ball from Tim Bateman, and used a combination of strength and speed to score the winning try.
It was a captivating encounter between two sides in good form, but it was the Wellington-based side that had more x-factor during the key moments, and were deserving winners when the full-time hooter sounded.