Hamilton: All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith scored a 76th-minute try as the Otago Highlanders beat the Waikato Chiefs 30-27, refusing to roll over despite being reduced to 14 men in the opening game of Super Rugby in Hamilton on Friday.
The Highlanders played with a man short for the final 15 minutes with replacement centre Sio Tomkinson sent off for a dangerous head-high tackle on Brodie Retallick.
Tomkinson appeared to be unlucky as Retallick ducked into the tackle, which referee Glen Jackson ruled was also principally a shoulder charge after several television replays.
Lock Pari Pari Parkinson and replacement flanker Shannon Frizell also scored tries for the Highlanders, who never let the Chiefs get too far ahead with the unerring boot of fly-half Josh Ioane adding 15 points.
Winger Etene Nanai-Seturo scored two tries for the Chiefs, who controlled much of the game only to be undone by the Highlanders’ replacements bench adding some much-needed impetus for the final quarter.