Super Rugby 2019: Dillon Hunt try snatches victory for Highlanders over Reds

Dillon Hunt's late try has allowed the Highlanders to snatch another comeback victory 36-31 over the Reds in Dunedin.

The result extends their home winning streak to 13 straight games.

Seven days after stealing a road win in the dying minutes against the Chiefs, the southern franchise repeated their Houdini routine on more familiar territory, with the fringe All Blacks flanker finishing a counterattack with about five minutes remaining.

The Reds enjoyed the first-round bye last week, after a disappointing 2018 season, where former All Blacks legend Brad Thorn spent time building a strong culture within his young team.

They showed their promise against the Highlanders, falling 14 points behind late in the first half and 12 early in the second, but fighting back to take the lead with 20 minutes remaining.

Consecutive tries to fullback Ben Smith and flanker Shannon Frizell helped the home side to a 24-17 advantage at the break and then Frizell scored his second after the restart to put them in the box seat.

But with centre Jordan Petaia starring, the Queenslanders fought back, turning desperate defence into a try to inspirational lock Izack Rodda, playing just two days after the death of his father back home.     

When prop Feao Fotuaika bullocked over and fullback Bryce Hegarty converted, the Reds suddenly had their noses in front and all the momentum.

They defended that lead until the dying moments, when replacement back Matt Faddes made a break down the right and linked with Ben Smith inside.

When replacement halfback Kane Hammington was dragged down short of the try-line, the ball eventually spread left, where Hunt had the overlap and a man outside him.

Frizell starred for the Highlanders, who lost Thompson to an ankle injury soon after his try.

"That was everything we expected from the Reds," said Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger. "I thought they were outstanding and put us under a lot of pressure. 

"Everything we previewed during the week, we got from the Reds tonight.

"We did some good things on attack, but were a little passive on defence, so we'll have to tidy that up next week."  

The Highlanders travel to Melbourne to race the Rebels next Friday, while the Reds host the defending champion Crusaders the following night.

Highlanders 36 (Frizell 2, Hunt, B Smith & Thompson tries, Ioane four conversions & penalty) Reds 31 (Fotuaika, Rodda, Sorovi & Feauai-Sautia tries, Hegarty penalty & four conversions)


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