The Hurricanes made it four wins from five in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman as they defeated a luckless Reds 43-14 in Wellington on Friday.

There were just three points separating the sides approaching the hour mark before the Hurricanes made the most of clinical scoring and good fortune to ease to victory.

The Reds had nearly 60 per cent of the possession and 637 carries to their opponents' 564 but saw crucial moments go against them as they suffered a fourth defeat in five games.

Hurricanes centre Ngani Laumape's try opened the scoring but Tate McDermott's converted score levelled the contest after Tyrel Lomax had been sin-binned for a high tackle.

Jordie Barrett's penalty gave the 14-man Hurricanes a 10-7 lead at half-time before the Reds lost Filipo Daugunu to a contentious yellow card, with Ruben Love touching down soon after.

Brandon Paenga-Amosa powered over after some intense forward pressure but Dane Cole's try following a soft lineout began the Hurricanes' late surge.

Laumape was awarded a penalty try after he and Bryce Hegarty chased a kick, the referee showing the latter yellow after ruling he had deliberately hit the ball over the line to prevent a score.

Replacement Devan Flanders and a second from Coles in the final nine minutes further punished the men from Queensland.

The Highlanders secured what could be an important 33-12 bonus-point win over the Brumbies that boosted their play-off hopes.

Aaron Smith scored two tries and assisted two more in a match in which the Highlanders scored 19 unanswered points in the second half.

Len Ikitau broke the deadlock for the Brumbies but Smith, Ash Dixon and Billy Harmon put the visitors in control in Canberra, despite Lachlan Lonergan also going over.

Patelesio Tomkinson got the crucial fifth try as the Highlanders held off some late pressure to make it five wins from five ahead of the final day of home-and-away matches.

Jordie Barrett missed two late penalties as the Hurricanes lost their 100 per cent Super Rugby Trans-Tasman record, slipping to a 12-10 defeat to the Brumbies after the Highlanders had hammered the Waratahs.

The Hurricanes' hopes of reaching the final were rocked at GIO Stadium, where the Brumbies held on to secure their first win of the competition on Saturday.

Brumbies scrum-half Ryan Lonergan crossed for the opening try in Canberra, but Jason Holland's side led 10-7 at half-time courtesy of a Dane Coles score and five points from the boot of Barrett.

Len Ikitau put the Brumbies back in front with their second try 12 minutes after the break and the visitors had a late Alex Fidow try ruled out for a knock-on.

Barrett was then off target with a penalty from the halfway line in the closing stages and the New Zealand international was unable to win it from the tee with the last kick of the game.

A second victory for an Australian franchise in the tournament leaves the beaten Hurricanes in fourth place and looking likely to miss out on a place in the final, with just one game of the regular season to come, which is against the Reds next Friday.

A ruthless Highlanders team had no such trouble in Dunedin, thrashing the struggling Waratahs 59-23 to sit in second place - a point behind the Blues and ahead of the Crusaders on points difference.

They ran away with it in the second half, scoring 26 points without reply after going in at the interval with a 33-23 advantage.

There were doubles for Ethan de Groot and Jona Nareki in a nine-try rout, while Mitch Hunt booted 14 points.

The Hurricanes made it two wins from two in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman as they scored five tries in a bonus-point defeat of the Rebels.

Julian Savea (two), Billy Proctor and Wes Goosen all crossed for the home side in Melbourne in a clinical 35-13 victory on Friday.

The Rebels, who lost prop Cabous Eloff to a 16th-minute yellow card, were only 11 points down at the break thanks to a Matt To'omua penalty sandwiched between tries from Savea and Proctor.

Michael Wells reduced the deficit further three minutes into the second half, the flanker touching down in the corner at the end of a clever passing move.

Savea scored his second of the match only for Campbell Magnay to give the visitors hope, but two further tries in seven minutes from Goosen and Asafo Aumua at last killed the contest as Jordie Barrett finished spotless with the boot.

The Highlanders also earned their second win in the Trans-Tasman competition as they won 25-15 against the Western Force in Perth.

There were 30 points scored in a frenetic first half, the Highlanders cruising ahead through tries from Jona Nareki, Ayden Johnstone and Scott Gregory before Tomas Cubelli reduced the arrears.

The second half proved a more attritional contest as the men from Dunedin showed real discipline in their defending. They won 63 of 63 rucks and 10 turnovers in the match, while only giving up nine penalties.

A second Gregory score 19 minutes from time put them firmly in control until replacement Angus Wagner went over in the dying moments for the Force, who lost narrowly to the Chiefs last week.

The Hurricanes beat the Waratahs 64-48 in a 17-try thriller and the Highlanders hammered the Reds as Super Rugby Trans-Tasman got under way on Friday.

Julian Savea and Billy Proctor claimed doubles as the impressive Hurricanes scored 10 tries in a pulsating contest, which saw the two sides rack up over a century of points at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Savea opened the scoring with an early try to help his side go in at half-time with a 33-24 advantage, Proctor dotting down twice either side of scores from Jordie Barrett and Dane Coles.

Alex Newsome, Angus Bell and Jake Gordon crossed for the Australian team in the first half as defensive frailties were exploited at both ends of the pitch.

Savea finished again early in the second half in a try-fest before Brayden Iose, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Pepesana Patafilo and Asafo Aumua got in on the act, while Barrett was on target with seven of his conversion attempts.

Harry Johnson-Holmes scored two of the beaten Waratahs' four second-half tries during what was an incredible contest.

Super Rugby Trans Tasman | Waratahs v Hurricanes - Rd 1 Highlights

The @Hurricanesrugby needed 10 tries to see off the @NSWWaratahs on Friday night, as Super Rugby Trans Tasman served up a 17-try shootout in Sydney.#SuperRugbyTT #WARvHUR pic.twitter.com/LulSssUJrv

— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) May 14, 2021

The Highlanders' victory completed a double for the New Zealand franchises after the Reds were beaten 40-19 in the other fixture.

Ash Dixon scored a try in each half at Forsyth Barr Stadium following an early score from Scott Gregory. Sio Tomkinson, Liam Coltman and Ngatungane Punivai also went over.

Suliasi Vunivalu claimed a brace of tries but the new Super Rugby AU champions came back down to earth with a bump following their title triumph.

The Hurricanes ran in six tries to end a disappointing Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign on a high with a thumping 41-22 win against the Highlanders.

Already certain to finish at the foot of the five-team pool, the Hurricanes at least gave themselves something to build upon ahead of the approaching Super Rugby Trans-Tasman campaign.

They trailed their second-bottom visitors 17-15 at half-time, with Devan Flanders and Dane Coles going over for the Hurricanes as the Highlanders responded through Josh Dickson and Jona Nareki.

The tone was set for the second-half Hurricanes dominance when Ngani Laumape dotted down almost immediately after the restart, and Du'Plessis Kirifi raced through soon afterwards for another score.

Ash Dixon dragged the Highlanders back into it by ploughing through a gap in the Hurricanes defence, but Brayden Iose and Salesi Rayasi left no doubt with tries in the closing 10 minutes, earning a second win in eight games.

Alex Hodgman saw red as a depleted Highlanders side dealt a blow to the Blues' Super Rugby Aotearoa Finals hopes with a hard-earned 35-29 victory on Friday.

Hodgman's dismissal came in the final 10 minutes of a close contest in Dunedin, for a wild high tackle on James Lentjes.

The Highlanders captialised, with Michael Collins going over for what was ultimately the winning try – Hoskins Sotutu's late score proving nothing but a consolation.

It was a rollercoaster encounter, with the lead swapped four times in the first half, Josh Ioane tallying up 12 points for the hosts, though his brother Rieko was one of two Blues try scorers in the opening 40 minutes.

Jona Nareki's try and Mitchell Hunt's penalty nosed the Highlanders ahead after the interval, and though Nepo Laulala crossed to apply pressure, Hodgman's red card proved decisive.

Having lost to the Chiefs last time out, the Highlanders are now up to third, one point behind the second-placed Blues.

Damian McKenzie's long-range extra-time penalty saw the Chiefs edge the Highlanders 26-23 to claim Super Rugby Aotearoa's first golden-point triumph.

It proved a moment of atonement for McKenize, who had punted wide from a similar opportunity at the end of regulation time.

In total, McKenzie kicked 16 of the Chief's 26 points, with Etene Nanai-Seturo and Angus Ta'avao scoring the visitors' tries in Dunedin.

Chasing a third straight win, the Chiefs led for much of the encounter, yet were pegged back late on by fly-half Josh Ioane, who converted his own try before drilling a penalty through the sticks to force extra-time.

James Lentjes and Aaron Smith had previously crossed for the hosts at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

It was McKenzie who struck the decisive blow, landing a penalty from just short of the halfway line to send the Chiefs into third place on 12 points, two shy of the Blues, who occupy the second semi-final berth, with table-topping Crusaders coming up next.

The Crusaders suffered a surprise first defeat of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season as the Highlanders cruised to a 33-12 victory.

The defending champions did the double over the Highlanders in last season's competition, but the form book was turned on its head on Friday.

It was only a second win in five matches for the Highlanders, who defeated the league leaders through 18 points from the boot of Mitch Hunt.

Billy Harmon, Michael Collins, Connor Garden-Bachop crossed for the Highlanders, who are a point behind the second-placed Blues having played a game more.

Meanwhile, in Super Rugby AU, the Waratahs suffered their sixth straight defeat but came agonisingly close to a draw with the league-leading Brumbies in their first game since Rob Penney's sacking.

Interim coaches Jason Gilmore and Chris Whitaker saw plenty of fight from their winless side, who staged an admirable second-half fightback having trailed 24-10 at the break.

Will Harrison converted his own try to trim the gap to seven points with under a quarter of an hour to play.

The Brumbies saw Rory Scott sin-binned with six minutes left and, after Tom Cusack was sent off with the clock red, James Ramm went over following a scrum metres out from the line, offering Harrison the chance to clinch a share of the spoils.

But Harrison could not split the uprights with his conversion attempt as the Waratahs suffered a 24-22 loss and more misery in a dismal campaign.

Jordie Barrett was in sensational form as his record points haul in Super Rugby Aotearoa led to the Hurricanes beating the Highlanders 30-19.

The All Blacks full-back scored all of the Hurricanes points in Dunedin on Friday, getting his team off the mark in this season's competition following three straight defeats.

In front of a 13,000-strong crowd at Forsyth-Barr Stadium, Barrett scored three tries, converting all of them, and added a further nine points from penalties.

It is a record points tally for a player in a single game of Super Rugby Aotearoa, which was established last year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tyrel Lomax's yellow card midway through the first half handed the Highlanders a chance to get back into the contest after Barrett put the visitors 10-0 up, with his first penalty a 50-metre effort, but although Tony Brown's team scored through Bryn Evans, the Hurricanes' star man was on hand to restore the 10-point cushion before half-time.

Mitch Hunt's error was pounced on by the Hurricanes, with Barrett going over to seal his hat-trick.

Connor Garden-Bachop and Thomas Umaga-Jensen struck back for the Highlanders, though Barrett fittingly had the final say with a stoppage-time penalty.

The Blues made it two wins from two games, scoring five tries in a 39-17 victory over the Highlanders in Super Rugby Aotearoa in Auckland on Sunday.

The hosts proved unstoppable at Eden Park, practically putting the game beyond reach by half-time with a 17-3 lead, before some late consolation for the Highlanders.

The victory, which backed up the Blues' opening-round 31-16 triumph over the Hurricanes, underlines their genuine contender credentials.

After an early Highlanders penalty, the Blues got the first try in the ninth minute when Otere Black finished off Rieko Ioane's good work.

The Blues got their second try seven minutes later, with numbers on the left side allowing Rieko Ioane to draw the defence and offload for Caleb Clarke to score in the corner.

They were denied a spectacular try by a TMO ruling that Akira Ioane's pass to Rieko Ioane was forward shortly prior to half-time.

Josh Dickson was yellow-carded before the break and Emoni Narawa added a third Blues try shortly after the interval, as they spread right after a rolling maul.

Clarke's good kicking set up another opportunity which was taken by substitute hooker Kurt Eklund from another Blues rolling maul which left the Highlanders helpless.

Ash Dixon pulled a try back for the visitors, before flanker Akira Ioane dived over for the Blues.

Blues scrum-half Sam Nock received a late sin-binning for cynical play before Folau Fakatava got a late consolation try for the Highlanders, squeezing over the line.

Wing wizard Jona Nareki ran in a hat-trick as the Highlanders recovered from a 14-point deficit to sink the Chiefs 39-23 in Hamilton.

The result meant the Chiefs lost a 10th successive game, and they will scarcely have better opportunities to get back to winning ways in Super Rugby Aotearoa, having led 20-6 inside half an hour of this contest.

Yellow cards for Sio Tomkinson and Ash Dixon hindered the Highlanders early on, and tries from Luke Jacobson and Damian McKenzie put the Chiefs apparently in charge.

Nareki had other ideas, though, and when the 23-year-old sprinted 90 metres from deep inside his own 22 to score, it was an ominous warning of what was to come.

Folau Fakatava cut further into the narrowing deficit 10 minutes into the second half, darting over from close range, and then Nareki took over, firstly with a lung-busting dash through midfield that ended with him feeding Shannon Frizell to power over the line.

Nareki himself raced over in the right corner for his second try in the 57th minute, showing great pace but also the nimblest of footwork to scythe through the Chiefs defence.

He got in again in the 69th minute, this time on the left, beating a desperate last-ditch attempted tackle to dot down in the corner and complete the hat-trick.

Josh Ioane added the extras to four of the Highlanders' five tries and added a pair of penalties, with the Chiefs left wounded by a brutal setback.

All Blacks half-back Aaron Smith has committed to New Zealand Rugby (NZR) until the 2023 World Cup in France after signing a new contract.

NZR confirmed on Tuesday that the 32-year-old, who has 97 caps for the All Blacks, had penned a new deal securing his future with Super Rugby side Highlanders and provincially with Manawatu.

Palmerston North-born Smith is New Zealand's most capped half-back and remains a key member of the All Blacks side who finished third at the 2019 World Cup.

"One thing that hasn't changed is my love for the Highlanders, the All Blacks and Manawatu," Smith said.

"The decision to stay is based on a number of things, but I'm very keen to see the Highlanders do well, we have a good environment here and some great, young players, so I think the next few years will be exciting for us and it'll be great to be part of it.

"Dunedin has been good to me. My wife Teagan and I have a home and a business here and our son Luka was born here. 

"I felt that committing to the Highlanders for another few years in some small way says thanks for all the support we have enjoyed over the years."

All Blacks coach Ian Foster added that Smith's influence on the side could not be underestimated.

"He is so instrumental in the way we play the game and is such a vital cog for us, both on and off the field, so this is fantastic news," Foster said. 

"We're delighted that Aaron, Teagan and his family have decided to commit to New Zealand and congratulate them on the decision."

It is anticipated Smith will bring up his 100th New Zealand cap this year, while he is two caps away from equalling the record for most appearances for the Highlanders.

The Crusaders made a winning start to their Super Rugby Aotearoa title defence, holding off the Highlanders to triumph 26-13 on Friday. 

All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor scored the opening try of the 2021 season as Crusaders crossed four times in total at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, though they were made to work hard for victory.

After Taylor touched down in the 13th minute, Bryn Hall followed suit soon after as the reigning champions quickly eased into a 14-0 lead, Richie Mo'unga landing both conversion attempts. 

However, Highlanders hit back to close the gap to four at the break. Shannon Frizell got their first points with a try, while Connor Garden-Bachop finished off a flowing move just before half-time. 

Mitch Hunt was on target with a penalty in the 43rd minute to reduce the deficit to just a solitary point, yet the home team were unable to edge ahead as Crusaders shut them out for the remainder of the contest. 

Sevu Reece crucially crashed over to make it 19-13, while replacement hooker Brodie McAlister sealed victory from a lineout drive with six minutes remaining. 

Mo'unga slotted over his third conversion as Crusaders were able to celebrate a successful start to their campaign, even though they finished with 14 men following a late yellow card for Scott Barrett. 

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