July 12, 2020 / 5:39 AM / a month ago

Rugby-Hurricanes hang on to beat Highlanders

WELLINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) - The Wellington Hurricanes established a strong lead and then held on to record their second win in Super Rugby Aotearoa with a 17-11 victory over the Otago Highlanders on Sunday.

The home side had built a 12-0 lead by halftime and 17-0 shortly after, but despite dominating possession were unable to pull too far away from the visitors.

Both Highlanders scrumhalf Aaron Smith and Hurricanes inside centre Ngani Laumape had early tries disallowed after referee Brendon Pickerill reviewed video footage and decided other players had created an obstruction for them to score.

The home side made good use of the blustery northerly wind to play mostly in Highlanders’ territory in the first half.

But it was not until the 28th minute they were able to break down the visitors’ defence when captain TJ Perenara exploited a gap close to the ruck.

The try could have been have also been called back had Pickerill chosen to review, with Highlanders hooker Ash Dixon shown being held down after being cleared from the ruck and opening the gap for Perenara to waltz through.

Hurricanes winger Cobus Van Wyk gave his side a 12-0 lead just before halftime when he tip-toed down the sideline while flanker Devan Flanders increased the advantage to 17-0 when he crossed early in the second half.

Highlanders flyhalf Mitchell Hunt managed to get his side on the board with a 51st minute penalty before Smith crossed, this time legitimately, to drag his side back to 17-8 with about 22 minutes remaining.

Hunt added his second penalty in the final minute of the game to secure a losing bonus point.

The Hurricanes host the Auckland Blues next week, while the Highlanders face the Waikato Chiefs in Hamilton. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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