Highlanders hold off Waratahs, Hurricanes win in Super Rugby
SYDNEY (AP) The Highlanders blew a 30-0 lead in holding out the fast-finishing New South Wales Waratahs 30-26 in a Super Rugby match between the 2014 and 2015 champions on Friday.
After ending the Waratahs' title defense in last year's semifinals, the New Zealand-based Highlanders returned to Sydney and looked to have the match clinched midway through the second half.
But four tries in 15 minutes by the Waratahs - three to replacement No. 8 Jed Holloway and one to reserve prop Tom Robertson - put nerves on edge. However, the Highlanders worked the phases and denied the Waratahs any more possession to beat them a third straight time.
The win moved the Highlanders provisionally into first place in the New Zealand Conference, three points ahead of the Chiefs and Hurricanes, who scored five second-half tries to collect a bonus point at the expense of the Western Force, 41-6.
Hurricanes captain Dane Coles, returning from injury for his first match of the season, scored the only try of the first half as his Wellington-based team overcame tenacious defense and handling errors to lead 10-3 at halftime.
The Hurricanes produced long-range raids in the second half and the Force eventually buckled, yielding five more tries in the space of 20 minutes.
The Bulls hosted the unbeaten Sharks in Pretoria, South Africa, late Friday.