Super Rugby: Lima Sopoaga guides the Highlanders to victory
Last Updated: 21/03/14 8:28am
The Highlanders survived a late onslaught to beat the Hurricanes 35-31.
The home side had eased into 35-12 lead, with the boot of Lima Sopoaga and tries from Phil Burleigh and Patrick Osborne putting them in control.
However Beauden Barrett led the fightback with two late tries on his way to a personal tally of 26 points, while Ben Franks also crossed.
The home side were able to close out the game, with the accuracy of Sopoaga, who finished with 25 points, proving decisive.
The match threatened to become a kicking duel between the rival No 10s - with the Highlanders leading 18-9 at half-time after a penalty-fuelled first half. Sopoaga, who somehow missed his first attempt from inside the 22, landed six penalties, with Barrett keeping the Hurricanes in touch with three of his own.
Barrett added another three-pointer after the interval as the visitors came storming out the blocks.
However the game was taken away from them as Burleigh profited from good work from Ben Smith and Aaron Smith to score the opening try of the match.
Sopoaga converted and added another penalty to extend the home side's lead before Osborne seemingly put the result beyond doubt.
The Highlanders winger picked off Hadleigh Parkes' looping pass and raced away to score. Sopoaga converted to rub salt into the wounds and give the hosts a convincing lead.
The Hurricanes, though, refused to give up and the kick-started their fightback when Franks burrowed his way over from close range.
With the Highlanders reduced to 14 men following Jarrad Hoeata's sin-binning, Barrett added another - with Andre Taylor making the initial break and TJ Perenara producing a sublime pass.
Barrett converted before scoring a second with just a minute remaining to ensure the Hurricanes picked up a bonus point at least.
The visitors immediately went looking for the winning score, however they just didn't have enough time - with the Highlanders closing out the game.