Planet Rugby

Highlanders stay afloat

13th May 2011 07:55

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jimmy cowan highlanders v hurricanes

Vital win: Highlanders halfback Jimmy Cowan feeds his forwards

The Highlanders kept their Super Rugby play-off hopes alive thanks to a 13-6 win over the Hurricanes in Invercargill on Friday.

It wasn't pretty, with wet weather ruining the game as a spectactle.

However if the hosts did a rain dance before the match it certainly worked, as the dangerous back three for the Hurricanes were kept quiet all night allowing the Highlanders' forwards to dominate proceedings.

Ironically the only try of the match came from a back-line player, thanks to a chip over the top from Highlanders halfback Jimmy Cowan that was chased by full-back Ben Smith who dotted down to continue his fine form this year.

Smith's try in the 36th minute proved to be the difference between the two sides and ultimately the match-winner.

The Highlanders scored ten points in ten minutes running up to half-time, with fly-half Lima Sopoaga converting and hitting a penalty as the southerners went 10-3 up at the break.

Sopoaga and Aaron Cruden traded kicks after the break when defence was well on top and try-scoring chances hard to come by.

The Hurricanes camped on the Highlanders' line in the final five minutes of the match, but couldn't convert pressure into points as the home side hung on for a crucial win that moves them to 39 points.

The Highlanders remain third in the New Zealand Conference, but will still be in touch with the top six by the end of the weekend while the Hurricanes remain rooted to the bottom of the conference with just three wins from 12 games.

"We were our own worst enemies, too many mistakes and probably let the other team into it," said Hurricanes captain Andrew Hore after the game.

"It's pretty frustrating, we're close but it doesn't get any more fans to come and watch you if you don't win."

The scorers:

For Highlanders:
Try: Smith
Con: Sopoaga
Pens: Sopoaga 2

For Hurricanes:
Pens: Cruden 2

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Matt Saunders, 11 Telusa Veainu, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Chris King, 2 Mo Schwalger, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Replacements: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 John Hardie, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Ben Atiga, 22 Robbie Robinson/Tony Brown.

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Jayden Hayward, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Jeremy Thrush, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Julian Savea, 22 Beauden Barrett.

Referee: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

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