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Highlanders hold off Rebels

The Highlanders kept in touch with the Super Rugby play-off places after holding on for a 33-30 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Dunedin.

Rebels fly-half Jason Woodward converted his own try with two minutes left to set up a nervy finale, but the Highlanders were able to clinch their third win of the campaign.

Both sides crossed for three tries apiece with Shane Christie, Aaron Smith and Ben Smith going over for the hosts while Lima Sopoaga added 18 points.

Woodward's 20 points were not enough for the Rebels, who also saw Scott Fuglistaller and Alex Rokobaro dive over early in each half.

Fuglistaller touched down for the opening try after seven minutes, but the Highlanders were soon in front.

Sopoaga kicked over a penalty before converting after Christie barged over as the HIghlanders made the most of a Rebels turnover close to their line.

Smith's quick feet then enabled them to open a 10-point lead - the All Blacks scrum-half dancing by a couple of would-be tacklers - although a Woodward penalty kept the Rebels within a converted score at half-time.

The Australian side were then level when Scott Higginbotham intercepted before his perfectly-placed kick allowed Rokobaro to dive over.

The Highlanders re-established their 10-point lead through as Sopoaga again kicked a panelty before Ben Smith's score in the corner was converted.

Woodward and Sopoaga traded penalties before the Rebels' Kiwi-born fly-half's late score that ensured a tight finish.


From Belfast Telegraph