Super15: Snubbed All Black steps up a Gear for Highlanders
Winger Hosea Gear raised his hand for All Blacks selection with a brace of tries as the visiting Otago Highlanders withstood a late charge by the Auckland Blues to win their Super Rugby match 27-20 at Eden Park yesterday.
Gear, whose omission from a 35-man squad for the world champions raised eyebrows in New Zealand, scored a try in each half to keep the Highlanders’ play-off ambitions alive. Late tries by Tevita Mailau and Tony Woodcock put the Blues within a converted try with two minutes to play, but the Highlanders held on.
Highlanders captain Jamie Mackintosh said: “We were just lucky enough to get a try just before and after half time. Credit to the Blues, they showed a lot of heart out there tonight.”
Outside centre Tamati Ellison scored the Highlanders’ first try in the 25th minute after chasing down his own clearing kick to the line.
Gear got their second ten minutes later, scampering in from 15 metres.
The Blues were stunned by a third 21 seconds after the half-time whistle when Ben Smith bolted 50 metres before off-loading to Gear for his second try.
Flanker Adam Thomson scored the visitors’ fourth try for the bonus point, intercepting a ludicrous line-out overthrow.
The game turned sharply a minute later when Highlanders’ Phil Burleigh was sin binned. Mailau planted the Blues’ first try in the 68th minute, and prop Woodcock barged over in the corner in the 77th minute, but that was all they could muster.
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