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Highlanders crush Blues

The Highlanders gave themselves a good chance of a home qualifying final in Super XV with a 44-7 hammering of the Blues.

The visitors had seven different try-scorers as they ruined Blues and New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu's Super Rugby farewell.

John Hardie, Shaun Treeby and Elliott Dixon scored before half-time and Patrick Osborne, Dan Pryor, Joe Latta and Ben Smith completed the rout.

Kicker Lima Sopoaga managed only nine points but his tactical kicking from hand played a key role. Matt McGahan's try, converted by Ihaia West, was the Blues' only score.

The Highlanders' bonus-point win left the Chiefs needing to respond in kind against the Hurricanes, including the 37-point margin, to snare the top wild-card spot.

Sopoaga's kick to touch set up a line-out and driving maul from which Hardie dotted down the opening try in the 10th minute, and the Highlanders never looked back.

The second try came despite the visitors being down to 14 men, with Josh Hohneck in the sin-bin, as Treeby touched down and flanker Dixon went over off the back of a scrum to make it 20-0 at half-time.

Mealamu was given a rousing ovation when he was subsituted early in the second half but there was no respite as Osborne crashed over in the corner and Pryor and Latta added further scores.

McGahan's touchdown was scant consolation for the Blues as Sopoaga kicked crossfield for Smith to haul the ball in and touch down for the final points.

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