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Highlanders beat Hurricanes to win first Super Rugby title

Reuters Reuters 4/07/2015 Greg Stutchbury
Highlanders celebrate first Super Rugby title

Eliot Dixon scored one try and set up another for Waisake Naholo as the Otago Highlanders beat the Wellington Hurricanes 21-14 to win their first Super Rugby title on Saturday.

Lima Sopoaga completely outplayed his All Blacks opposite Beauden Barrett with a superb kicking game and slotted two penalties and a conversion for the visitors, before Marty banks slotted a 78th minute dropgoal to seal the win.

Aaron Smith celebrates as Eliot Dixon scores a try. © Getty Images Aaron Smith celebrates as Eliot Dixon scores a try.

The Hurricanes, who had topped the regular season table, were unable to exert themselves on much of the game with the Highlanders slowing down their ball at the breakdown and playing the game at their own pace.

The home side also made numerous errors and wasted a wealth of possession with sloppy handling and accuracy while attempting to play too much rugby inside their own territory.

Ben Smith celebrates victory. © Getty Images Ben Smith celebrates victory.

Dixon, who was easily the best player on the field, had given his side a 13-5 lead at halftime with a 40th-minute try.

He drove through four defenders but appeared unsure if he had grounded the ball as he reached out in the tackle but television match official Ben Skeen advised referee Peyper to award the try, which was converted by Sopoaga.

The match was played at a frenetic pace with Sopoaga's fifth minute penalty the only points in the first quarter despite both sides hammering away at each other.

Highlanders celebrate their win. © Getty Images Highlanders celebrate their win.

Sopoaga added a second penalty in the 29th minute to give his side a 6-0 advantage before Hurricanes centre Ma'a Nonu crashed over for his side's only first half points shortly before Dixon's score.

Devastation for the Hurricanes © Getty Images Devastation for the Hurricanes

Barrett, who had missed three shots at the goal in the first half to not build any scoreboard pressure for the home side, slotted three penalties in the second to drag his side back into the game, though the Highlanders shut the game down in the last eight minutes to hold on for the victory.

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