Highlanders beat Reds 36-31 in Super Rugby
DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP) — The Dunedin, New Zealand-based Highlanders established themselves as the escape artists of Super Rugby as they came from behind Friday to beat the Queensland Reds 36-31 after trailing 31-29 with seven minutes remaining.
In the first round of the season, the Highlanders also came from behind, trailing the Chiefs 27-20 before rallying with only 14 men to win 30-27.
On Friday they gave up a 24-10 lead just before halftime to trail 31-29 with five minutes left before a try to flanker Dillon Hunt gave them their second consecutive win.
The match was played at a frenetic pace and saw nine tries scored; five by the Highlanders and four by the Reds.
The Highlanders built an early advantage but the Reds surged back into the match on either side of halftime before eventually taking the lead against the run of play.
Backrower Shannon Frizell, who came off the bench to score try in last weekend’s opening round, scored two tries Friday which contributed to the Highlanders’ 29-17 lead after 42 minutes.
But the Reds’ comeback began with a magnificent end-to-end try to lock Isack Rodda after the Reds had been defending their own goal line. A powerful tackle created a turnover and play flowed almost 90 meters before Rodda scored to cut the lead to 29-24.
Young frontrower Feao Fotuaika crashed over for a try which gave the Reds the lead after 57 minutes.
The Highlanders composed themselves and exerted pressure on the Reds in the last 10 minutes which produced the winning try to flanker Dillon Hunt, created by winger Tevita Li and fullback Ben Smith.
“It was hugely difficult for the lads. It was tit for tat the whole game,” Highlanders captain Luke Whitelock said. “Every time we scored points they scored them pretty soon after so it was a tough battle.”
It was the only Super Rugby match played Friday.