An Ardie Savea-inspired Wellington Hurricanes yesterday survived a late fightback to end Otago Highlanders’ two-year home win streak, while a yellow card for Stormers captain Siya Kolisi proved costly against the Queensland Reds.
Flanker Savea scored two of the Hurricanes’ four tries in a 31-28 victory in Dunedin, New Zealand, that went to the wire.
The Highlanders had three line-outs after the full-time siren, but could not break through, slumping to their first loss at the Forsyth Barr Stadium since March 4, 2017.
In Brisbane, Australia, 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 of 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 T.J. Perenara said that it restored confidence after a heavy defeat to Canterbury 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,” Perenara 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 hosts’ 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 line-outs.
In Brisbane, both teams were coming off defeats after the Reds were thumped by the Rebels and the Stormers crashed to the Blues.
“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,” Reds captain Samu Kerevi said. “I’m really proud of the boys.”
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 winger Sergeal Petersen dived over for a try, only for replays to show that he stepped out of play just before grounding the ball.
There were few other opportunities before Kolisi was penalized for holding on at the breakdown seconds before halftime.
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