Dillon Hunt’s late try secured a 36-31 victory for the Highlanders over the Reds in a Super Rugby thriller at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday.
The Highlanders came from behind to edge out the Chiefs in the first match of the season and they overcame another scare in Dunedin, where the Reds showed plenty of promise but started the campaign with a defeat.
Aaron Mauger’s men produced some slick handling for the opening try – scored by Rob Thompson – and led 24-17 at the break after New Zealand duo Shannon Frizell and Ben Smith also touched down.
The Reds also showed their attacking quality with a well-worked score from Chris Feauai-Sautia and a Moses Sorovi try, set up by a brilliant inside pass from Sefanaia Naivalu.
Frizzell’s second five-pointer early in the second half gave the Highlanders breathing space, but the Reds hit the front following tries from Izack Rodda and Feao Fotuaika – Bryce Hegarty converting the latter to take his tally to nine points.
Hunt claimed the decisive try six minutes from time, though, Dan Lienert-Brown setting up the back row, and Josh Ioane adding the extras for the fourth time in a pulsating tussle.
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