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Canes take eighth win; Highlanders lose

The Hurricanes have taken a stranglehold on the Super Rugby Pacific regular season title after another convincing victory.

The Canes won their eight straight match to open the season, scoring five tries and surviving almost 10 minutes with just 13 players in a 38-15 win over the Fijian Drua in Suva, Fiji on Friday night.

The victory moved the Hurricanes to 37 points, 10 clear of the Blues and ACT Brumbies, who face each other on Saturday (kick-off 7.05pm) at Auckland's Eden Park.

The Hurricanes were in control after a strong first half, leading 28-7, but there were some nervous moments after flanker DuPlessis Kirifi and lock Isaia Walker-Leawere were shown yellow cards in the 64th and 65th minutes.

Kirifi was sin-binned for a high tackle, and Walker-Leawere for slapping the ball down at a ruck with the Drua attacking the Hurricanes line.

However, the visitors were able to hold out while two-men down, with the teams exchanging penalties. The Canes lost replacement prop Caleb Delany to the sin-bin in the 81st minute for repeated infringements, but they had the final say, with reserve prop Xavier Numia scoring deep into referee's time.

Jordie Barrett Hurricanes Super Rugby Pacific
Jordie Barrett and the Hurricanes celebrated an eight straight win in Suva. PHOTO: SUPER RUGBY

The Hurricanes conceded significant possession and territory to the Drua but were resolute in defence, making a whopping 236 tackles, and were clinical on attack when they did get the ball in attacking situations.

Centre Billy Proctor opened the scoring in the eighth minute, dotting down after the Drua spilled a Salesi Rayasi chip-kick inside their 22, before the Drua answered soon after through Isikeli Rabitu.

No 8 Devon Flanders gave the Canes the lead for good in the 16th minute, charging off the back of an attacking scrum, then the visitors took control with two late first-half tries. First, Jordie Barrett scored after a Proctor break in midfield, then hooker James O'Reilly went over from a 5m lineout drive.

In Round 10, the Hurricanes (8-0-0, 37 points) travel to Australia's Capital to face the ACT Brumbies next Saturday (kick-off 4.35pm NZ Time), while the Drua host Moana Pasifika in Lautoka earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, the struggling Highlanders have been held scoreless for the fourth time in their Super Rugby history and first time since 2019.

The Highlanders, still just two points outside the top-eight, turned over the ball regularly and barely fired a shot in a 31-0 rout at the hands of the Queensland Reds at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

In a low-quality affair, the Reds scored tries through second-five Hunter Paisami in the third minute and lock Ryan Smith in the 27th minute, to lead 17-0 at halftime. The Highlanders held out until the last quarter when Lawson Creighton was put through a gap by Paisami, before Suli Vunivalu scored in the game's last play.

In Round 10, the Highlanders (2-0-6, 11 points) host the also-lowly Western Force (1-0-6, five points) in Round 10 at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium next Saturday (kick-off 7.05pm), while the Reds welcome the Blues (6-0-1, 27 points) to Brisbane in the following match.

Hurricanes 38 (Billy Proctor, Devon Flanders, Jordie Barrett, James O'Reilly, Xavier Numia tries; Aidan Morgan 4 con, Jordie Barrett con, pen) Fijian Drua 15 (Isikeli Rabitu, Kitione Salawa tries; Kemu Valetini con, pen). HT: 28-7

Queensland Reds 31 (Hunter Paisami, Ryan Smith, Lawson Creighton, Suli Vunivalu tries; Tom Lynagh 2 con, pen, Lawson Creighton 2 con) Highlanders 0. HT: 17-0


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