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Highlanders shed the Blues to maintain playoff hopes

Date

Highlanders 27 Blues 20

Backed up ... the Highlanders' Ma'afu Fia makes a break.

Backed up ... the Highlanders' Ma'afu Fia makes a break. Photo: Getty Images

The Highlanders have broken their Eden Park drought and maintained their challenge for the Super Rugby playoffs with a bonus-point 27-20 victory over the hapless Blues.

MATCH STATS

The Highlanders tasted only their second success at the Auckland ground, and their first since 2002, on Saturday night.

High hopes ... Liaki Moli competes with Adam Thomson in the lineout.

High hopes ... Liaki Moli competes with Adam Thomson in the lineout. Photo: Getty Images

Two of their four tries went to eight-Test winger Hosea Gear, who this week turned down a lucrative Japanese contract in a bid to press his claims for a return to the All Blacks.

The win lifted the Highlanders into the top six and they will stay there if South African conference leaders Stormers beat the Sharks in the last match of the round.

Blues coach Pat Lam made several changes to his starting 15, including benching experienced All Blacks Ali Williams, Ma’a Nonu and Piri Weepu, but the move couldn’t prevent an 11th defeat of the season.

Down but not out ... Jamie Mackintosh regains his composure.

Down but not out ... Jamie Mackintosh regains his composure. Photo: Getty Images

All three did get on in the second half, lock Williams notching up 100 Super Rugby appearances, while Nonu showed plenty of energy after he was introduced.

After the sides traded early penalties, the Highlanders hit the front with a long-range try that began with hooker Andrew Hore snaring a turnover and ended with centre Tamati Ellison getting to his own kick-ahead to dot down.

The visitors crossed again through a slick backline move finished off by Gear, who completed his double a minute into the second spell after a big break by fullback Ben Smith.

The bonus-point try was a soft one, with Blues hooker James Parsons’ throw from a defensive lineout going straight to opposition flanker Adam Thomson, who found no one between him and the line.

A yellow card to Highlanders centre Phil Burleigh for a professional foul sparked a late Blues comeback.

Props Tevita Mailau, when the Blues were a man up, and Tony Woodcock, three minutes from time, both got over the line, but it was too little, too late for the home side.

HIGHLANDERS 27 (Hosea Gear 2, Tamati Ellison, Adam Thomson tries Chris Noakes 2 cons pen) bt BLUES 20 (Tevita Mailau, Tony Woodcock tries Gareth Anscombe, Lachie Munro cons Anscombe 2 pens) at Eden Park. Referee: Glen Jackson.

AAP

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all
 

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