Hurricanes top Super Rugby standings with win at Highlanders

rugby08 April 2023 12:03| © Reuters

Two tries from winger Salesi Rayasi helped propel Hurricanes to the top of the Super Rugby Pacific table as they beat the Highlanders 29-14 away in Dunedin on Saturday.

It was a sixth win in seven games for the Canes, who join Chiefs on 27 points at the summit.

Chiefs, with a 100 per cent record after six games, had a bye on an abridged Easter programme but will be away in Wellington for a top of the table clash next Friday.

Flyhalf Beauden Barrett answered questions about his form with a convincing performance as playmaker to help Blues came back from a halftime deficit to win 54-17 at the Melbourne Rebels in Saturday's other game.

"I'm playing with a smile on my face and that's all that matters," said Barrett after a week of scrutiny in the media.

They blew away the Rebels in the second half with 41 unanswered points, including seven tries.

Rayasi scored the first try in a drab first half in Dunedin, but the Highlanders replied before the break and were only 8-7 behind at halftime.

However, the visitors then scored two quick tries at the start of the second half, first from lock Jamie Blackwell and then halfback Cam Roigard to go 22-7 up.

Rayasi crossed for his second after a break by replacement scrum half Jamie Booth for another score in the 64th minute but home captain Billy Harmon went over for a consolation five minutes from time to deny the Hurricanes a bonus point win.

The Highlanders have now lost 14 derby games on the trot.

"That first half was tough and I was just proud of the boys to come back in the second half and really nail the simple things and get it done," Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea said.

On Friday, Crusaders overcame a halftime deficit against winless Moana Pasifika to beat the visitors 38-21 with All Blacks flyhalf Richie Mo'unga making his 100th appearance.

He kicked over a penalty and five conversions but it was the islanders who took the early initiative as they scored three tries to grab an unlikely 21-17 lead at the break.

They eventually cracked under the set piece pressure and ran out of steam to allow the Crusaders to come back and win.

Brumbies are third in the standings with 26 points after ending a seven-match losing streak at Lang Park in Brisbane by beating the Reds 52-24 on Friday.

An early red card for lock Angus Blyth put the hosts on the back foot and despite a gallant early effort to stay in contention, the Brumbies scored five second-half tries for a comfortable victory.