Unbeaten Hurricanes march on

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20 Mar 2015
Unbeaten Hurricanes march on

The Hurricanes' phenomenal start to the season continued on Friday as they beat the Highlanders 20-13 at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Incredibly, this is the thirteenth consecutive game between these sides to be decided by seven points or less!

The result means the Hurricanes - the only unbeaten side left in the competition - provisionally return to the top of the Super Rugby standings thanks to their fifth win from as many games.

The 'Canes outscored their hosts two tries to one but it was their defensive effort that was most impressive, led by in-from All Black centre Ma'a Nonu, who put in a few thundering hits.

An arm-wrestle of a first half finished with the scores locked at 3-all as Lima Sopoaga and Beauden Barrett traded penalties.

A scrappy opening period failed to live up to the pre-game expectations, though it wasn't from a lack of positive intent.

The second half saw a raise in intensity and pace. The Hurricanes crossed the whitewash via tries from Reggie Goodes and TJ Perenara but the Highlanders forced a grandstand finish via Sopoaga's late try.

The Highlanders came closest to scoring a try in the first half with Malakai Fekitoa getting over, but it was disallowed by the TMO with Ben Smith pinged for hanging onto Brad Shields' leg off the ball.

The Hurricanes showed greater composure after the break and were rewarded with the first try as Goodes crashed over from close range.

Barrett's conversion and a penalty just before the hour mark to put the visitors ahead 13-3 going into the final quarter.

Sopoaga's second penalty of the night cut the gap but the Highlanders were guilty of being a little impatient, trying to force the issue on a few occasions

Credit to the Hurricanes' defence though as a handful of try-saving tackles kept the hosts at bay.

Perenara sniped over with eight minutes left to seal the win but the Highlanders kept coming.

Sopoaga sold a great dummy to cross and his conversion meant the hosts were still able to snatch a draw. They almost did so but their try-scoring effort after the hooter was rightly disallowed for a forward pass.