Highlanders crowned 2015 Super Rugby Champions

The Highlanders won their first Super Rugby title in 2015

The Highlanders won their first Super Rugby title by beating the Hurricanes 14-21 in a frenetic Super Rugby final at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.

The closest the highlanders got to a Super Rugby title before this was in 1999 when they were beaten by the Crusaders in the final at their home ground in Dunedin.

Highlanders flanker Elliot Dixon was named man of the match after scoring a try and setting up Waisake Naholo for his try.

The Highlanders led the Hurricanes 5-13 at half time after a try by Elliot Dixon, two penalties and a conversion from Lima Sopoaga.

The Hurricanes could have been in front at half time but Beauden Barrett missed two penalties and the conversion on Ma’a Nonu’s try.

Having only lost two matches all season and with home advantage the Hurricanes went into the final as strong favourites.

The Highlanders band of rejects led the match throughout and forced the Hurricanes to chase the game and cemented their fairytale season with the Super Rugby crown.

The historic title for the Highlanders is only the fifth time in the 20-year history of Super rugby that the home team has been beaten in the final of the southern hemisphere club competition.

The composite team from the south, with co-captain Ben Smith the only member born in the Highlanders catchment area, ventured north to the Hurricanes Westpac Stadium and scored two tries to one.

From the opening three minutes of helter-skelter rugby, which ended with a penalty to Lima Sopoaga to open the scoring for the Highlanders, to a final drop goal by Marty Banks, the game was played at a relentless pace. It was a game packed with emotion with neither side having previously won the championship.

The Hurricanes, pacesetters all year, were also farewelling a band of senior players including All Blacks Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Ben Franks and Jeremy
Thrush.

They played with the initials JC stitched on their jerseys in memory of former teammate Jerry Collins who was recently killed in a car accident in France.

Fielding 10 players with Test experience, the Hurricanes dominated territory and possession only to be outplayed by a Highlanders unit, with only three experienced All Blacks, who belied their reputation as a team of unwanted no bodies.

Sopoaga moved to the Highlanders from Wellington to escape the shadow of Beauden Barrett, and Banks, who sealed the outcome at the end when the ‘Canes had closed
to within four points, is another Hurricanes reject.

Elliot Dixon, who joined the franchise from the Crusaders, won man of the match after scoring the crucial try on half-time.

Dixon again featured after the resumption of play when he drew two defenders to put Waisake Naholo over.

Naholo, the top try scorer in the competition his year signed up for the Hurricanes after being rejected by the Blues

Ma’a Nonu scored the Hurricanes sole try in the 35th minute but after that they were never to breach the Highlanders defence with Barrett providing the
rest of their points from three penalties.

The Hurricanes are now the only New Zealand team not to have won a Super Rugby title.

Final Score Hurricanes 14 (5) Highlanders 21 (13)

Scorers

Hurricanes 
Tries – M.Nonu.
Pen – B.Barrett 3
Con –
Drop –
Cards –

Highlanders
Tries – E.Dixon, W.Naholo
Pen – L.Sopoaga 2
Con – L.Sopoaga
Drop – M.Banks
Cards –

Match Officials
Ref

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