LIVE: Highlanders on the verge of silencing Hurricanes after pushing lead out with 10 minutes to go

Welcome to 1 NEWS NOW’s live updates of tonight’s Round 16 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

HIG THREE! Highlanders really playing with their tails up now and the Hurricanes are struggling to keep up. They earn a penalty on halfway for hands in the ruck and Ben Smith comes flying in to take it quickly. He runs for 15m into the Hurricanes’ half before being brought down. The Highlanders receyle back to the left and Buckman puts Franklin in space. They’re inside the 22m now and still rolling forward. Hurricanes try to turn it over but its a penalty for hands in the ruck. Easy three for Sopoaga and it pushes that lead to outside two converted tries.

HIG TRY! Another Highlanders beauty! Highlanders set things up in the middle of the field off the lineout and catch the Hurricanes off guard by going back to the right. Smith links up Squire with a pinpoint pass and the loosie gives it to Naholo in space. He’s got 30m to run but with that pace he’s not going to be stopped and he’s in in the corner.

The Highlanders forwards get it done again! Hurricanes (finally) secure a lineout but the maul goes no where so they try pick and gos. They go no where as well and its a penalty against Shields for not releasing the ball. Highlanders happy to hoof it downfield and it’s a lineout on the Hurricanes’ 10m to get it going again.

Big chance to reply for the Hurricanes as Naholo is penalised for playing off his feet in the breakdown. Hurricanes use the penalty to find touch and it’s a lineout 20m from the Highlanders line.

Hurricanes get a scrum after the Highlanders knock it on at kickoff but the Highlanders pack continues to dominate and earns a penalty at scrum time! Highlanders clear and set up a lineout on halfway but there’s a knock on after the throw in so we’ll settle for another Hurricanes scrum.

HIG TRY! The Highlanders are back in front! Lomax scores his first Super Rugby try and what a time to do so. Highlanders go from the right sideline back to the left and rumble to within two metres of the line. Smith changes directions and bullets it back to Lomax and he’s in under the posts virtually uncontested. Great vision and execution by Smith.

The Hurricanes lineout falters AGAIN! Riccitelli pinged for a brain explosion – he’s walked over the touchline to throw the ball?!? Highlanders take a scrum for the free kick.

Highlanders throw their chance away after their penalised for a neck roll at the breakdown. Barrett clears for a Hurricanes’ lineout just inside their half.

Highlanders with a big chance now after the Hurricanes are penalised again. This time it’s for tackling off the ball. It’s an easy three from in front but they choose the lineout! 5m from the line here. Cna the forwards get it done?

Hurricanes have another attacking chance after the Highlanders are penalised for killing the ball. The penalty gives them a lineout 10m from the Highlanders line but they’ve lost yet another lineout! What a shocker from the sideline they’re having tonight! To make matters worse, they’re then penalised for illegally entering the ruck. Highlanders thump it downfield and its a lineout near halfway for them.

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HUR TRY! Highlanders turn it over after rolling into the Highlanders’ 22m and the Highlanders look to counter attack with a cross kick to Li but it bounces out! Milner-Skudder takes it quick, finds Savea and he’s in space with 20m to go. He’s finally wrapped up by Li but he offloads to Toomaga-Allen and the big prop is in! Barrett gets the extras to give the Hurricanes the lead again! 

Highlanders give away a penalty after kickoff for not rolling away so Barrett hoofs it downfield and it’s a lineout just inside the Highlanders half. 

HIG TRY! THE SMITHS COMBINE! Barrett tries to clear but its collected easily by Li who passes to his fullback. Smith shimmies, steps inside and he’s in the back field sprinting! He’s got support either side as Milner-Skudder comes to tackle him. Simple draw and pass to his halfback and Aaron Smith is in. Sopoaga hits the posts so no extras.

Highlanders get an attacking chance early after Riccitelli is pinged for a deliberate knock down. He isn’t yellowed like others have for the same crime but it’s still put the Hurricanes on the back foot with Squire on the field for the lineout on the Hurricanes’ 22m.

We’ve recovered from the first half and things are underway again. Just a quick note – because they chewed up so much time after the hooter, the Highlanders are only without Squire for another two minutes despite him being sent off in the 39th minute. 

HIG TRY! WHAT AN AMAZING FINISH TO THE HALF! Four minutes of extra team as neither team wants to go to the sheds but it’s resulted in a lead change thanks to Tevita Li! Highlanders run it all the way from their 22m down to the other end and rumble into the Highlanders 22m after going wing to wing for four straight phases. They earn an advantage 5m out after rumbling so more and after a run on the right wing doesn’t work, Aaron Smith sprints across the field, ball in hand, to take it quick from the mark and link up with Hemopo in the left corner. The big lock is heading out so he pops it behind to Li and the winger is in! Breath-taking footy at its best. We’ll be back in 10 after we catch our breath, let alone the players!

And it’s all on again! Perenara knocks it on at the lineout and it eventually leads to another jersey-grabbing affair. Ref calls in the captains to calm everything down and warn them more cards will come if it continues. After the warning, it’s a Highlanders scrum 30m from their line.

HIG YELLOW! Squire goes to the bin for a dangerous tackle. No replays could show if Savea’s strike made contact so he’s gotten out of jail free. That all happened before Barrett’s runaway so that’s where play will resume. The Hurricanes use the penalty to find touch and they’ll get a lineout 30m from the Highlanders line with a one-man advantage.

Julian Savea looks to be the one in trouble. Squire has hit him high and he’s retaliated by what looks like throwing a punch. That’s led to that scuffle in the back field.

Utter. Chaos. The TMO has been called in for a scuffle that broke out in back play while Jordie Barrett was off and scoring after going down a minute ago clutching at his leg with what looked like a serious injury. He’ll review both. Bare with us.

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Another scrum after Shields puts down an intercept opportunity. This scrum is a little further back but still inside the Hurricanes half on the left side of the field. 

Highlanders earn a scrum just inside the Hurricanes half after the Hurricanes knock it on trying to clean out and turn over possession at the breakdown. 

HIG NO TRY! Highlanders attack off the scrum and Sopoaga gets a tough pass. He juggles it as the Hurricanes defence collapses on him but he has enough control to get off a netball pass. It finds its target and the Highlanders are away in the corner but the ref brings it back for a forward pass! Close call but it’s the one made. Hurricanes with a scrum just outside their 22m.

Ref stops play after Ben Smith takes a high ball but lands hard on the ground with a bit of whiplash seeing his head hit the turf. He’s quick to get up and medical staff seem happy enough so the doctor leaves him out there. Highlanders get a scrum 30m from the Hurricanes line to restart play.

HUR TRY! Too easy. Perenara gets a good run off the scrum to his left, pops off to Beauden who uses a bullet pass to find Jordie in a hole and he’s in. Doesn’t get much easier and the Hurricanes take the lead.

Hurricanes with another attacking chance as they use another penalty for another scrum. Laumape gets the Canes into the Highlanders’ 22m with a great run and as he goes down, Highlanders are pinged for slowing the ball down. The scrum will be set 15 from the line, just to the right of the posts.

The answer is not a lot. Sloppy pass off the scrum sees Savea scoop it up and look to run but he’s wrapped up 10m out and there’s a knock on called at the breakdown. Highlanders with a scrum near the left sideline.They clear through Sopoaga and it’s a Hurricanes lineout 30m out.

Hurricanes have another attacking chance after earning a penalty on the Highlanders’ 22m right in the middle of the field. They don’t want the three and they appear to have little confidence in their lineout having already lost two so they pick the scrum! Good attacking platform – what can this star-studded backline do with it?

HUR NO TRY! Hurricanes launch off the lineout with a set piece to Lam on the left wing. Thompson and Li come across to shut him down with 5m to go and push him into touch as he stretches out to score. It’s close but he’s defintely out first.

The Highlanders steal the lineout! Great read and quickly clear it. Hurricanes will reset with a lineout 35m out from Hurricanes line.

Hurricanes with a great attacking opportunity now after getting a penalty off the kickoff. Illegal cleanout at the first ruck so the Hurricanes kick for the corner and get a 5m lineout.

HIG THREE! Easy three for Sopoaga right in front and that puts the Highlanders in the lead!

Highlanders use a cheeky kick through on the blindside and it rolls into the 22m. Milner-Skudder has no choice but to carry it out with Li coming bounding down the sideline. Highlanders then get a penalty off the lineout as there’s a penalty for hands in the ruck at the following breakdown.

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Rare error from Perenara. He’s knocked the ball on at the base of scrum! Highlanders will get the feed now instead.

Hurricanes clear and Highlanders opt to run it back. But Aaron Smith gets held up and eventually stripped by Riccitelli and the Hurricanes look to counter. They go to Laumape near the left wing, he breaks two and grubbers back to the middle of the field but Naholo scoops it up with ease. Highlanders try a counter of their own but a long pass from Smith is forward. Hurricanes with a scrum just inside the Highlanders half.

Highlanders set up in the middle of the field off the lineout. They go back to their right but an inside pass to put Thompson in space is ruled forward. Hurricanes survive the first attacking chance of the game and get a scrum just inside their 22m as a result.

Halfbacks are trading box kicks to start the game off and it leads to the first penalty of the game. Highlanders opt to run from their 10m and go wide to Li who is taken with a high tackle. Nothing dangerous but it is high. Sopoaga boots it and the Highlanders have a lineout on the Hurricanes’ 22m.

Sopoaga gets things under way and we’re off in Dunedin!

Highlanders' Aaron Smith (R attempts to run in a try but is tackled by Hurricanes' Jordie Barrett during the Hurricanes vs Highlanders Super Rugby match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday the 18th of March 2017. Copyright Photo by Marty Melville /

Can the Smiths lead the Highlanders to another NZ conference win?

Source: Photosport

The Highlanders are hoping to narrow the gap on the table between them and the Hurricanes when they host the Wellington franchise tonight.

The Southern men sit nine points behind the Hurricanes with four rounds to go, leading assistant coach Glenn Delaney to propose a fool-proof plan to win tonight’s game.

“Turn the sprinklers on!”

With the weather not playing a role under Forsyth Barr’s roof, the Hurricanes will look to unlock their deadly backline once again after struggling in the wet in their loss to the Crusaders last week.

Coach Chris Boyd said the games are so different, he was actively making sure there were no lessons from last week being taken into tonight’s match.

Instead, the Wellington franchise is focusing on shutting down the inventive kicking game the Highlanders present.

“They kick more than anyone else,” Boyd said.

“They’re very good at strike play… they’re quite prepared to say ‘well you have the ball and we’ll knock you over and you make the mistake and we’ll pick it up and score’.”

HIG: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi 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 Kalolo Tuiloma, 2 Ash Dixon (cc), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

HIG subs: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Richard Buckman

HUR: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Jordie Barrett, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields (c), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith

HUR subs: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Vaea Fifita/Murray Douglas, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Wes Goosen


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