Highlanders' Marty Banks, left, receives a pat on the back from Malakai Fekitoa after kicking a drop goal against the Hurricanes in the Super Rugby final match at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand, Saturday, July 04, 2015.
Highlanders' Marty Banks, left, receives a pat on the back from Malakai Fekitoa after kicking a drop goal against the Hurricanes in the Super Rugby final match at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand, Saturday, July 04, 2015. AAP Image- SNPA, Ross Setford

Canes’ drought continues after loss

THE Hurricanes remain the only New Zealand side yet to win a Super Rugby title after falling at the final hurdle against the Highlanders in Wellington.

After finishing top of the ladder with a 14-2 record, and earning a home grand final, the Hurricanes were unable to match the level of enthusiasm the Highlanders brought to the contest, going down 21-14 after trailing throughout.

In 20 years of Super Rugby, the Hurricanes have played in two finals for no joy. The Crusaders and the fog got the better of them in 2006, and this match was meant to be the perfect send-off for some of the team's favourite sons.

Winning a title in their final match before heading offshore was supposed to be the happy ending that fairytales are made of for players such as Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu and Jeremy Thrush.

But not even the motivation of winning in memory of former club champion Jerry Collins, killed when his car collided with a bus in southern France last month, could deliver the long-awaited ultimate success.

The Hurricanes players had the initials 'JC' embroided on to their sleeves, and sensing the team needed some inspiration, home fans began chanting "Jerry, Jerry" as the hour mark approached.

The Highlanders were not to be denied, however, and it was left to a former Hurricane - Marty Banks (pictured) - to nail a late drop goal to seal the win.

SCORE: Highlanders 21 (E Dixon, W Naholo tries; L Sopoaga 2 pens, con, M Banks drop goal) Hurricanes 14 (M Nonu try; B Barrett 3 pens) in Wellington on Saturday night.



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