HURRICANES 17 HIGHLANDERS 19
Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes is tackled by Andrew Hore of the Highlanders. Photo: Getty Images
The Highlanders' fairytale start to the Super Rugby season has continued as they closed out yet another tight contest to down the Hurricanes 19-17 in Wellington.
Against the Hurricanes, they probably should have sewn up the match much earlier, given the amount of possession and territory they had.
It took a penalty from replacement five-eighth Chris Noakes seven minutes from time to take them into a lead they held to the end.
The defeat was the second for the Hurricanes, who were backing up from impressive victories away to the Lions and the Force.
The Highlanders, helped by an early 7-1 penalty count, raced out to a 13-0 lead, with five-eighth Colin Slade getting all the points.
The tally included a try that came on the back on a period of sustained pressure.
But just as the Highlanders seemed to be coasting, the Hurricanes struck back over the last 11 minutes of the half as the penalty count began to even up.
Two Beauden Barrett penalties got them going before All Black Cory Jane scored in the corner thanks to a big break from fellow winger Julian Savea.
While Barrett missed the difficult conversion, he landed another penalty to send the Hurricanes into the interval 14-13 ahead.
Another Slade penalty nudge the Highlander back in front and the visitors twice almost pulled further ahead with a try.
Winger Kade Poki finished off a sweeping move begun on the other flank by former Hurricane Hosea Gear, only to be called back after centre Tamati Ellison's final pass was ruled forward.
Minutes later, lock Josh Bekhuis couldn't hold a difficult pass just out from the line.
The Hurricanes went back in front with a long-range Barrett penalty before Noakes landed the decisive goal.
The Highlanders travel to Canberra to face the Brumbies next week, while the Hurricanes are away to the Blues.
HIGHLANDERS 19 (Colin Slade try con Slade 3, Chris Noakes pens) bt HURRICANES 17 (Cory Jane try Beauden Barrett 4 pens) at Westpac Stadium. Referee: Bryce Lawrence.