Super Rugby: Highlanders beat Drua

Highlanders v Drua
Photo: Fijian Drua

The injury-hit Highlanders conceded the first try of the match, then scored five of their own in the first half on the way to a 57-24 win over the Fijian Drua in Super Rugby Pacific.

Brilliant scrumhalf Frank Lomani scored the opening try for the Drua after 14 minutes.

But the Highlanders responded with four tries in the space of 16 minutes through the middle of the first half, then added another just before the break to take a 33-12 lead to halftime.

All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith scored a sixth try in the fourth minute of the second half to increase the lead to 38-12, then Jonah Lowe made it 45-12 with the seventh in the 53rd.

Lomani scored his second try and kicked a conversion of a try to Tevita Ikaniveri as the Drua stayed in the match but a second try to Argentina import Martin Bogado and another to Cameron Millar gave the Highlanders a welcome bonus point and an emphatic win.

After starting the season with three straight losses they now have won their past two matches and move up to mid-table with the Drua who also have a 2-3 record.

“It’s been a long time coming for us to string a whole performance together and really build those moments,” Highlanders captain Billy Harmon said. 

“That’s what it’s all about this week, that execution to build our momentum and that’s what we’ve done.

“We know the Drua, they love to play that loose game and it’s easy to get into that loose game when you’re against it. But we just wanted to stick to our system and just play our game.”

The Highlanders’ plan for the match was disrupted by injuries, including the loss of two players only hours before the start of play.

They had to dig even deeper into their playing resources and rearrange the backline when replacement centre Jake Te Hiwi had to leave the field injured after just 12 minutes.

Lomani scored only moments later and the Highlanders looked in trouble. But they had a resounding response as they ran in try after try before halftime.

Hurricanes blow away Moana Pasifika

Meanwhile, Moana Pasifika’s torrid start to this season’s Super Rugby Pacific goes on thanks to a 59-0 hammering by the title-chasing Hurricanes in Auckland. 

Revenge was in the air for the Hurricanes, who this time last year lost to a golden-point try from Danny Toala as Moana Pasifika recorded their first-ever victory in the competition. 

There never looked likely to be a repeat at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday. 

The win moved the Hurricanes – whose only defeat in five games this season has come at the hands of fellow New Zealanders the Blues – up to second in the ladder, four points behind the unbeaten Chiefs.

They also boast a league-leading points difference of +110. 

Things are not looking so bright for Moana Pasifika, who suffered a fifth straight loss and have now conceded 121 points in their last two matches. 

At least they got on the board in last weekend’s 62-36 defeat at the ACT Brumbies. On Saturday they had no such luck, blowing what chances they did create.

Winger Tima Fainga’anuku went closest to scoring for the hosts, but a foot in touch ruled out his effort. 

A game-ending first-minute injury to No.8 Lotu Inisi set the tone, and Moana Pasifika never recovered as Joshua Moorsby, Brett Cameron and Cam Roigard crossed to give the Hurricanes a 19-0 lead at halftime. 

The second period continued in much the same vein, with Moana Pasifika unable to capitalise on opportunities, and the Hurricanes ruthless in their execution. 

Winger Kini Naholo extended their lead after 55 minutes, before his counterpart on the other flank, Salesi Rayasi, scored the first of his second-half double 120 seconds later. 

Rayasi grabbed his second of the game on 66 minutes, and moments later skipper Ardie Savea scored under the posts as the Hurricanes threatened to blow their opponents away. 

Hame Faiva and Peter Lakai added further tries to complete the rout, with Moana Pasifika heading back to the drawing board before next Friday’s clash with the Highlanders. 

The Hurricanes welcome the Western Force to Palmerston North next Sunday.

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