The Highlanders are Super Rugby champions after beating the Hurricanes 21-14 in a clinical performance.
(Photo credit: Sportal via Google Images)
The final wasn’t without controversy when the TMO awarded Highlanders forward Elliot Dixon a try, however replays showed that Dixon hadn’t touched the ball down with any conviction.
The try would go on to be a crucial difference in the final outcome, but didn’t take away from the Highlanders who executed well across the park.
Hurricanes kicker Beauden Barrett had a difficult night, missing all his early kicks before finding some stability in the second half.
Each time the Hurricanes slotted penalties to draw closer, the Highlanders answered immediately, and with time running out, the Hurricanes began to panic and slipped off the game plan quickly.
Julian Savea will be haunted when he looks at the tape because not taking such a simple catch to score in the corner to score at a crucial time took the life out of the Hurricanes.
The Highlanders did a good job at keeping key Hurricanes attackers out of the game, and Lima Sopoaga was brilliant again with the boot and with ball in hand, working well in partnership with Ben Smith and Waiseke Naholo again.
A hometown crowd of nearly 40,000 couldn’t push the Hurricanes over the line, and it is a heartbreaking way to for the club to end such a successful season.
The Highlanders will return to Dunedin tomorrow as Super Rugby champions for the first time.