Super Rugby: Highlanders hold off Lions fightback in Dunedin

Last Updated: 10/05/14 12:38pm

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The Highlanders almost blew a 23-0 lead in Dunedin on Saturday with only a missed conversion from the Lions seeing them cling on to a 23-22 victory in Super Rugby.

The Highlanders claimed three tries a penalty and a drop-goal as they built up a comfortable advantage in the first half, but after the break the game turned completely on its head.

As the Lions came storming back they crossed for three tries to set up a tense finish, with huge controversy as they were denied a fourth score by the TMO in the dying minutes as Vinny Munro could not find clear evidence that Rudi Mathee had touched the ball against the post padding.

They did find a breakthrough minutes later when Courtnall Skosan scored a try right at the death, but replacement fly-half Elton Jantjies could not hit the target with his tense conversion from the touchline after the full-time siren.

The Lions had further reason to be upset as Jantjies could very well have been entitled to a second attempt as the Highlanders had charged early but referee Angus Gardner did not hesitate in blowing the final whistle.

Richard Buckman scored two brilliant tries and Gareth Evans added another in the first half as the Highlanders exploited some shaky defence from the men in red.

But a change in tactics saw the Lions take a far more direct approach after the break. Their execution was markedly better too as Faf de Klerk, Lionel Mapoe, Armand van der Merwe and Skosan all crossed the whitewash.

Inaccurate kicking ultimately cost the visitors as Marnitz Boshoff had uncharacteristically missed two previous conversions.

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