Highlanders thrash Auckland Blues

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The seven-try rout spoiled All Black hooker Keven Mealamu's final match for the Blues while lifting the Highlanders to fourth on the table.

The Waikato Chiefs can snatch back the spot with a big win over the top-ranked Hurricanes, who have already sewn up a home semi-final in the playoffs and may elect to rest a number of players.

“I'm going to miss being alongside these men. Put the results aside, they're good men to play with,” Mealamu said in a pitchside interview after coming off the ground to a rousing ovation in the second half.

The Highlanders shared the tries around, with openside flanker John Hardie, inside centre Shaun Treeby and blindside flanker Elliot Dixon all crossing in the first half to put their team up 20-0 at the break.

After a miserable season of only three wins, the Blues appeared destined to finish their campaign scoreless but replacement back Matt McGahan finally crossed 13 minutes from the final hooter.

By that time the Highlanders had already added another three tries to winger Patrick Osborne, number eight Dan Pryor and lock Joe Latta, picking holes through the Blues defence virtually at will.

The Highlanders iced the cake with four minutes left with a glorious team try created by flyhalf Lima Sopoaga, who delivered a perfectly weighted kick to the left corner.

Winger Patrick Osborne leaped high to tap down the kick to rushing fullback Ben Smith who gleefully touched down for the Highlanders' seventh.

Long-serving All Black Mealamu retires from Super Rugby at the age of 36 and after a record 175 matches, having outstripped former Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe's record of 162 earlier this year. – Reuters

Original source: Highlanders thrash Auckland Blues

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