High­landers beat Force in bruis­ing en­counter

Fiji Sun - - Sport - leonec@fi­jisun.com.fj

Dunedin: The High­landers have won a bru­tal en­counter over the West­ern Force 32-20 in Dunedin to surge to the top of the Su­per Rugby stand­ings. The de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons snared their fifth suc­ces­sive vic­tory but it was tougher than they may have con­tem­plated against the abra­sive visi­tors, who suf­fered a fourth straight de­feat. The worst was an ap­par­ently se­ri­ous in­jury to Force flanker An­gus Cot­trell, who ex­ited on a stretcher with his neck in a brace mid­way through the sec­ond half fol­low­ing a lengthy stop­page.

All Blacks full­back Ben Smith didn’t re­turn fol­low­ing a head knock soon af­ter half­time while prop Bren­don Ed­monds limped off with what ap­peared to be a se­ri­ous knee in­jury early in the game.

The first, to full­back Dane Haylett-Petty, came from a dis­as­trous pass from High­landers winger Patrick Os­borne on his own try­line. Force No. 8 Ben McCal­man dou­bled the lead be­fore the High­landers bagged high-oc­tane tries to Os­borne and flanker Dan Pryor to level the scores at 14-14 at half­time. Force five-eighth Peter Grant and High­landers op­po­site Hay­den Parker — stand­ing in for the in­jured Lima Sopoaga — traded penal­ties be­fore Matt Fad­des started and fin­ished an­other long-range try. The teams traded penal­ties again but the hosts sealed vic­tory when re­serve back Ja­son Emery crossed for their fourth try in the 76th minute. The re­sult ended a run of four wins on High­landers soil for the Force. Con­versely, the High­landers have won three in a row against Aus­tralian teams and will want to con­tinue that next week against Queens­land in Bris­bane.

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