Champions Highlanders inflict first Super Rugby loss of season on Lions
Super Rugby champions the Highlanders ended the Lions' unbeaten start to the season with a 34-15 triumph in Dunedin on Saturday.
There was little to separate the teams in the first half, with a Matt Faddes try - converted by Lima Sopoaga, who had opened the scoring with an early penalty - helping the hosts to a 10-3 interval lead at the Forsyth Barr Stadium. Elton Jantjies' 32nd-minute penalty got the visitors on the board.
But the Highlanders moved up a gear at the start of the second period, scoring 14 points in four minutes to put the game out of reach. Ben Smith (42) and Faddes again (44) touched down, Sopoaga adding the extras on both occasions.
Malakai Fekitoa stretched the Highlanders' advantage with a 55th-minute score - again converted by Sopoaga, who added a drop-goal on the hour mark for good measure.
Late tries from Rohan Janse van Rensburg (62) and Ruan Ackermann (76) made the scoreline more respectable for the Lions, and the latter - converted by Jantjies - denied the home team a bonus point.