Super 15 joy for Highlanders
The Highlanders made it two wins from two with a thrilling 27-24 victory over the Crusaders in the Super 15 encounter in Dunedin.
The hosts scored three tries to two in front of a capacity crowd of 23,000, Hosea Gear scoring the winner 11 minutes from the end. Andrew Hore and Phil Burleigh also crossed for the hosts, with Israel Dagg and Andy Ellis notching the Crusaders' tries.
The Highlanders dominated the first half but the Crusaders fought back strongly and had the better of much of the second. Lima Sopoaga kicked 15 points for the Highlanders, whose win was greeted ecstatically by the Dunedin fans.
A perfect kicking display from Mike Harris helped Queensland see off the Western Force 35-20 at Suncorp Stadium, giving the Reds back-to-back Australian Conference wins to start their title defence.
Leading by 17 at half-time, the Reds were forced to overcome an early two-try second-half salvo from the visitors, before recomposing to close out on level pegging and take the result on the back of a nine-goal haul from Harris, which equalled the state record previously held by John Eales.
In a match that saw two tries apiece, fly-half Harris extended his Super Rugby conversion record to 23 from 24, booting seven penalties, including a pair of sideline specials, and adding the extra two after Ben Tapuai and Radike Samo's tries.
The Bulls sounded an ominous early-season warning as they went on a six-try rout of the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, winning 51-19.
Full-back Zane Kirchner crossed twice, while Morne Steyn kicked 21 points as the three-time Super Rugby champions showed they will again be a force this season.
The Stormers won the battle of the boot against rival South African side the Sharks 15-12, making it two wins from two at the start of their campaign.