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Highlanders stay in finals hunt with nine-try Waratahs rout

The Highlanders move up to joint-second with 59-23 win in Dunedin.

Sio Tomkinson runs in one of the Highlanders' nine tries.
Sio Tomkinson runs in one of the Highlanders' nine tries.
Image: AAP/PA Images

OTAGO HIGHLANDERS KEPT themselves in the race for the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final and extended the NSW Waratahs’ record losing streak with a 59-23 win in Dunedin.

The Highlanders scored nine tries to two, moving to second on the ladder alongside the Crusaders and behind the Auckland Blues, with Wellington Hurricanes also in contention to make the decider.

The result was the Waratahs’s 12th straight defeat, equalling the record for an Australian Super Rugby side record set by the Rebels in 2011-12.

Play was end-to end under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium as both sides played expansive rugby and turned the match into an attack-orientated try-fest.

The high number of tackles and loose defence meant the game resembled touch rugby at times, as the lead changed hands seven times in the first half alone.

Highlanders centre Michael Collins struck within two minutes of the start as a Sio Tomkinson offload caught the Waratahs defence napping.

They crossed the line five times before the break, with wingers Jona Nareki and Tomkinson turning on the afterburners for their efforts, while forwards Ethan de Groot and Ash Dixon powered through.

Jack Maddocks and Mark Nawaqanitawase kept the Waratahs in touch, along with three penalties due to some poor discipline from the hosts, making it 33-23 at half-time.

The Highlanders ramped up their defence after the restart, holding the Waratahs scoreless in the second half as they notched four more tries through de Groot, Kazuki Himeno, Nareki and Teariki Ben-Nicholas.

© – AFP, 2021

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