Highlanders Come From Behind to Beat Rebels
Flanker Adam Thomson and fullback Ben Smith shared five of seven tries as the Otago Highlanders rebounded from their first loss of the season to beat the Melbourne Rebels 43-12 in Super 15 rugby on Friday.
The Highlanders took 32 minutes to score their first try through Smith when they were trailing 9-0.
But home side ran in four tries in 14 minutes on either side of halftime to rush to a 24-12 lead to bank their first four-try bonus point of the season.
Otago has won five of six matches this season but its previous highest winning margin was only four points. Its win on Friday, at its alternative home ground of Rugby Park in Invercargill, New Zealand’s southernmost city, took it temporarily to the top of the championship table in the first match of the sixth round.
Thomson scored his first try in the third minute of first-half stoppage time to lock the halftime score at 12-12. He had his second three minutes into the second half as the Highlanders shook off the Rebels and began to build an unassailable lead.
He created a try for winger Kade Poki in the sixth minute of the second half, had another try disallowed when his foot knicked the touchline in the 68th minute, but claimed his hat trick with a legitimate try two minutes later.
Thomson was part of the All Blacks’ winning Rugby World Cup squad last year but his personal Cup campaign was wrecked by injuries. He now has the chance to establish himself as the All Blacks’ No. 1 blindside flanker.
“I had a rest last week and I felt fresh this week,” he said.