Belfast Telegraph

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Highlanders end losing run

The Highlanders put on a strong performance to hammer the Stormers 39-21 in Super Rugby and end a six-match losing run against the South African side.

Waisake Naholo touched down twice with Aaron Smith, Patrick Osborne and Dan Pryor also crossing as the hosts saw off their rivals by five tries to three, while Lima Sopoaga contributed 11 points with the boot.

The Stormers replied with two tries from Juan de Jongh plus Michael Rhodes' second-half effort, but they were outclassed at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The visitors arrived in Dunedin defending an excellent record against the Highlanders and it looked as if that would continue when De Jongh slipped through for the opening try after 18 minutes, with Demetri Catrakilis slotting the conversion.

But the Highlanders' reply was almost immediate as Smith dotted down beneath the posts and Sopoaga levelled the scores with his successful kick.

Sopoaga then added a penalty to put the home side in front for the first time before Naholo grabbed two tries in five minutes, both converted by Sopoaga, to give the Highlanders a commanding 24-7 lead at the interval.

The try-fest continued into the second half with Osbourne diving over after 47 minutes to add his name to the list of scorers, Sopoaga again adding the extras.

That left the Stormers chasing a 24-point deficit but they clawed back some of that on the hour when patient build-up play resulted in Rhodes crashing over and Kurt Coleman slotting the two points.

Yet the Highlanders fashioned the perfect response within minutes, getting the ball out for Pryor to punch a hole in the visiting defence.

Matty Banks was unable to add the conversion while De Jongh salvaged some pride for the Stormers with his late converted try, but fittingly the Highlanders had the final say with Banks slotting a penalty on the final whistle to seal a commanding win.


From Belfast Telegraph