Ki­wis rule Su­per Rugby

It will be the first time in nine years that two New Zealand teams con­test the fi­nal

CityPress - - Sport -

The well-drilled High­landers up­set the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Waratahs 35-17 yesterday to set up an all-New Zealand Su­per Rugby fi­nal in Syd­ney on Satur­day. The High­landers ex­e­cuted their game plan to per­fec­tion to throw the Waratahs out of their play­ing rhythm, scor­ing five tries to one af­ter lead­ing 15-14 at half-time. The High­landers will face com­pe­ti­tion favourites the Hur­ri­canes in the fi­nal on Satur­day af­ter the New Zealand con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons knocked out the Brumbies 29-9 ear­lier in Welling­ton.

It will be the first all-Kiwi Su­per Rugby fi­nal since 2006, when the Cru­saders beat the Hur­ri­canes 19-12.

The High­landers dic­tated play with their tac­ti­cal kick­ing and struc­tured for­ward play to register their first win in Syd­ney in eight years.

The out-of-sorts Waratahs con­trib­uted to their down­fall with shoddy han­dling and 18 turnovers in one of their worst per­for­mances of the sea­son.

The High­landers trailed the Waratahs 17-15 af­ter 50 min­utes, but the Ki­wis scored 20 unan­swered points, leav­ing them con­vinc­ing win­ners.

The High­landers’ tries were scored by im­pres­sive scrum half Aaron Smith, Richard Buck­man, Waisake Na­holo and Pa­trick Os­borne, while South African ref­eree Craig Jou­bert ruled a con­tentious penalty try when Jac­ques Pot­gi­eter was given a yel­low card for a swing­ing arm in a tackle on Os­borne near the Waratahs’ try line. Fly half Lima Sopoaga kicked two con­ver­sions, a penalty goal and a drop goal. The Waratahs scored their only try through winger Rob Horne in the 11th minute and fly half Bernard Fo­ley landed four penal­ties.

Ear­lier in the day, broth­ers Ardie and Ju­lian Savea had scored tries ei­ther side of half-time to help pro­pel the Hur­ri­canes to their vic­tory over the Brumbies and into their first Su­per Rugby fi­nal since 2006.

Scrum half TJ Per­e­nara and re­place­ment winger Matt Proc­tor also scored for the home side, who were still mourn­ing the death of for­mer All Blacks and Hur­ri­canes loose for­ward Jerry Collins ear­lier this month fol­low­ing a car crash in France.

Fly half Chris­tian Leali­ifano (two) and full­back Jesse Mogg slot­ted penal­ties for the visi­tors, who could do lit­tle to shut down the high-oc­tane at­tack from the home side.

Renowned for his bone-jar­ring tack­les, Collins would have been proud of his for­mer team as they with­stood a tor­rid open­ing five min­utes from the visi­tors and then, as they have done so con­sis­tently all sea­son, sim­ply got into their work.

The pack took the ball for­ward and com­mit­ted de­fend­ers be­fore the back­line – sparked by new All Blacks winger Nehe Mil­ner-Skud­der – made breaks out wide.

That re­lent­less pres­sure even­tu­ally told and winger Ju­lian Savea was able to bar­rel over to open the scor­ing in the 21st minute be­fore Per­e­nara fin­ished off another break from Mil­ner-Skud­der for his 11th try of the sea­son.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES PHOTO: SAB SPORTS

A HAND UP Alex Ain­ley of the High­landers steals a line-out ball dur­ing the Su­per Rugby semi­fi­nal against the Waratahs at Al­lianz Sta­dium yesterday

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