Dunedin has been good to me. My wife Teagan and I have a home and a business here and our son Luka was born here. I felt that committing to the Highlanders for another few years in some small way says thanks for all the support we have enjoyed over the years. –Aaron Smith, Highlanders match record holder
By Roger Childs
It came in threes for the youngest of the All Black Barrett brothers – three tries, three conversions and three long range penalties. This was enough for the Hurricanes to comfortably beat the Highlanders on Friday night and for Jordie Barrett to create a record for points by a player in a Super Rugby Aotearoa match.
The Wellington-based franchise went to Dunedin very much the underdogs with three losses out of three so far in the competition. However, under the roof at the Forsyth Barr stadium the visitors shot out to a 10 point lead after 12 minutes. Mid way through the second half the Hurricanes were 27-12 ahead but they would have been mindful of last weekend’s melt-down at the Sky Stadium in Wellington when they blew a 26-7 lead against the Chiefs to lose the match.
Although the home team picked up two second half tries it was not enough to give them a victory to celebrate Aaron Smith’ record breaking 154th game for the Southerners.
Too many mistakes by the locals
The Highlanders had their chances and spent three times as much time in the opposition’s 22 as the Hurricanes. Unfortunately opportunities to score were not taken as there were a number of handling errors and penalties given way. Mitch Hunt playing at first five did not have a good match summed up in the second half when he dropped an easy high kick from man-of-the-match Jordie Barrett. The Southerners may well have fared better if Josh Iaone had been in his accustomed position at first five.
For the Highlanders Shannon Frizell and Pari Pari Parkinson made strong carries in the loose; Iaone was dangerous from full back with his tricky running and Ash Dixon lead from the front in the forwards. Folau Fakatava replacing Smith at half back, was lively and caught the Hurricanes napping late in the second half with a quick tap to put Thomas Umaga-Jensen in for an excellent try on the right flank.
For the visitors in addition to Barrett’s starring role, Salesi Rayasi was strong on attack and kicked well; Scrafton was impressive in the lineout and the tight, and Dane Coles returning from injury had a lively game.
It was an even contest in the forwards and basically the differences in the two teams was the sharpness of the the visitors when they got the chances to attack.
Proud night for Smith
Following the match Aaron Smith was presented with a claymore sword in recognition of his service to the Southern franchise and his record in becoming the team’s most capped player. His wife was also present and small son Luka wore a Highlander jersey with the half back’s number 9 on the back. Captain Ash Dixon led the enthusiastic haka to honour their record breaking team mate.