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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 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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