The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Highlanders edge Hurricanes 18-16 to step up playoff bid in Super Rugby

  • Print

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Flyhalf Hayden Parker added a dropped goal to a succession of five penalties to propel the Highlanders to an 18-16 win over the Hurricanes on Friday, adding impetus to their bid for a playoff place in Super Rugby.

Parker snapped his dropped goal from close range in the 64th minute to force the third lead change of a tight match and give the Dunedin-based Highlanders their first lead in 41 minutes.

The Wellington-based Hurricanes scored the only try of the match through scrumhalf TJ Perenara in the 37th. Perenara had a second try, a potential match-winner, disallowed because of obstruction five minutes from fulltime.

Friday's win, which lifted the Highlanders into second place in the New Zealand conference and into fourth place overall at the start of the tournament's 14th round, significantly boosted their playoff hopes. They came into the match in seventh place, just below the sixth-place Hurricanes with both teams equal on 30 championships points.

The win allowed them to leapfrog the Hurricanes and, significantly, they have a match in hand as the regular season nears its end. The Highlanders have a tough run toward the playoffs with matches remaining against the seven-time champion Crusaders, who they must play twice, the defending champion Chiefs, the 2011 champion Queensland Reds and the New South Wales Waratahs.

The Hurricanes have one match fewer to come because of a bye in the last round and must play the Chiefs twice, the Blues and the Crusaders in an equally difficult finish to the season. Their loss on Friday in a match they were widely expected to win was severely damaging to their playoffs hopes.

"I'm just trying to work out how we lost that," Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith said. "It was always going to be tight, I suppose, between two very good sides.

"They're a very good defensive side. It became really tight early on and I suppose both sides began playing pretty conservatively."

The Hurricanes had the better of a close first half and, with Perenara's try, took a 13-9 lead to halftime. They tried to play their traditional running game but the Highlanders were effective in slowing their ball at the breakdown and shutting down their options out wide.

Perenara's try was contentious. He skirted a scrum five meters from the Highlanders line, reached over when the ball emerged and batted it out of the hands of Aaron Smith, then recovered the loose ball to score. Whether he should have been allowed to lean over a scrum was doubtful but he showed initiative in creating the chance.

All Blacks flyhalf Beaden Barrett kicked two early penalties for the Hurricanes but he was forced to give up the goal-kicking after an apparent leg injury midway through the first half. He finally left the field with 20 minutes remaining.

In his absence, fullback Andre Taylor converted Perenara's try and added a penalty, then missed two penalties, including a close-range effort in the 70th minute which was pivotal.

Parker landed five consecutive penalties for the Highlanders and made the shrewd decision to take a dropped goal chance from broken play in the 64th minute, giving his team their final 18-16 lead.

Perenara dived through a ruck for what might have been the winning try in the 75th minute but his effort was disallowed by the television match official, who ruled an obstruction on Aaron Smith.


Highlanders 18 (Hayden Parker 5 penalties, dropped goal), Hurricanes 16 (TJ Perenara try; Andre Taylor conversion, penalty; Beauden Barrett 2 penalties). HT: 9-13.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Keri Latimer looks for beauty in the dark and the spaces between the notes

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A mother goose has chosen a rather busy spot to nest her eggs- in the parking lot of St Vital Centre on a boulevard. Countless cars buzz by and people have begun to bring it food.-Goose Challenge Day 06 - May 08, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Who are the real Bombers?

View Results

Ads by Google