The Highlanders got a sweet taste of Super Rugby victory after defeating the Hurricanes 21-14 in front of more than 30,000 fans in Wellington last night.
The 20-year drought for the South finally ended with Highlander Captain Nasi Manu admitting having given his all.
He says, “I'm just shattered. I don't have any more energy and I just feel like I'm dreaming.”
As celebrations were in full swing, Ngāti Maniapoto Coach Jamie Joseph was still in shock saying, “It's been a long time since there has been some real success in the deep-south. I think it'll mean a hell of a lot to the region. We already felt that throughout the whole season.”
Although The Hurricanes went into the final as the game favourites, their emotions made it clear that they were trying to keep positive after being defeated on their own soil.
Hurricanes Captain Conrad Smith said, “At times like this I try to keep perspective on things and I'll try and keep the guys heads lifted. There's a lot to be proud of and it's a game of footy we lost.”
Highlanders First Five Lima Sopoaga's conversion provided the first points on the score board, but it was Wellington’s Ma’a Nonu who was first to touch down.
Ngāpuhi Highlander Elliot Dixon finished the first half with a lead of 13-5.
He claimed that, “I just thought that the TMO (Technical Match Official) hasn't been on my side this whole year. So I thought that it might not go my way but I was pretty happy.”
Things were looking promising in the second half with Hurricane’s Beauden Barret narrowing the gap but chances of a win came to no avail.
Thinking of the final seconds of the game, Highlander’s Dixon admitted that the last two minutes was the longest two minutes of his life.