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Highlanders overrun Tahs in Super Rugby

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/05/2017

The Highlanders have overwhelmed the Waratahs 44-28 in Dunedin, for their ninth consecutive win of the Super Rugby season.

The hosts overcame an underwhelming first half to cross five times in the second-half after the Tahs led 14-13 at halftime.

Saturday's win means the Highlanders draw level with the second-placed Chiefs on 45 points in the highly competitive New Zealand conference.

They looked unconvincing early on, however, and it took a 48 metre Marty Banks penalty to give them the lead after 14 minutes.

Richard Buckman extended the margin barely a minute later, latching onto a fortuitous bounce after No.8 Luke Whitelock and centre Malakai Fekitoa charged down Bernard Foley's attempted clearance inside his own 22.

The Tahs took just four minutes to reply, finding front-foot ball after an initial break down the left from skipper Michael Hooper.

Quick hands then shifted the ball right to unleash powerful fullback Israel Folau on an unstoppable charge to the line for his eighth try of the season.

Another Banks penalty looked to have secured the Highlanders a 13-7 half-time lead, but Taqele Naiyaravoro snatched the lead for the visitors after halfback Nick Phipps put him in space with a superbly weighted cutout pass.

Trailing by a point at the break, the Highlanders attacked right from the restart, striking after just six minutes when NSW lock Dean Mumm was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle.

Liam Coltman scored from the back of a relentless lineout drive, followed four minutes later by a Tevita Li beauty as he latched onto Fekitoa's pinpoint kick in behind.

With the Highlanders picking up plenty of turnover ball at the breakdown, the tries continued to come.

Rob Thompson added their fourth try with 15 minutes remaining to open out the lead to 30-14.

Replacement Tahs halfback Jake Gordon crossed for the first of his two tries as the 70-minute mark approached.

Daniel Lienert-Brown and Lima 'Sopoaga wrapped up the scoring for the Highlanders with two tries in two minutes.

Gordon completed a hectic second 40 minutes with a 77th minute try to deny the Highlanders a bonus point.

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