Super Rugby: Highlanders remain winless after loss to the Hurricanes
Last Updated: 15/03/13 8:39am
The Hurricanes piled more pressure on the winless Highlanders as they snatched a 23-19 victory in Dunedin.
The Wellington franchise made light of their recent try-scoring issues to cross three times, while desperate defence at the death kept the Highlanders at bay.
Colin Slade, making his first start in almost a year, did his best to keep hosts in the contest but it proved to be in vain.
The Hurricanes had been last season's leading try scorers last season, but they had managed to register just four in their opening three games this time around.
However Conrad Smith, Ben Franks and TJ Perenara all dived over - while Barrett added two conversions and two crucial late penalties.
Smith burrowed over after a 13-phrase spell of pressure, while Highlanders full-back Ben Smith will have nightmares after prop Franks bumped him off to score. Perenara was rewarded for his determination as he somehow twisted and turned his way through the defence to score.
The Hurricanes also saw Brad Shields knock on trying to regather Smith's chip ahead while Perenara was denied by Jason Emery.
The Highlanders had led 13-12 at the break and 19-17 deep into the second half, however they couldn't close out the win.
Slade, handed his first start for the Otago franchise since he broke his leg in the 33-26 loss in the Brumbies on March 24 last year, slotted over four penalties and a conversion, while Hosea Gear powered through Barrett's attempted tackle to score.
However, try as they might, the Highlanders just couldn't find a way through some resolute defence at the death.