5 Apr 2014

Highlanders hold off charging Rebels

6:05 am on 5 April 2014

The Highlanders have kept alive their hopes of turning their Super Rugby season around, beating the strong-finishing Melbourne Rebels 33-30 in Dunedin on Friday.

The win pushes the Highlanders above the Hurricanes to third in the local conference, a point behind the Blues and two back from leaders the Chiefs.

Tries from flanker Shane Christie, halfback Aaron Smith and fullback Ben Smith combined with 18 points from the almost unerring boot of first-five Lima Sopoaga earned a third victory from six matches this season.

Fullback Jason Woodward scored 20 of the visitors' points, including a converted try four minutes from time that gave the Rebels hopes of another comeback win to match their upset of the ACT Brumbies last weekend.

The Highlanders held firm, though, and, with the 80 minutes up even flirted with going for a fourth try to win the bonus point before Sopoaga kicked the ball high into the stands to bring an end to proceedings.