It was another great first half of rugby from the Highlanders, after last week's shock second half defeat to the Lions the Highlanders came out fired up for their second game in South Africa. They started strong with debutant Ryan Tongia notching up an early try after being on the receiving end of a perfectly weighted chip kick from Lima Sopoaga. The Cheetahs replied with a penalty only for Tongia to bring up his second try after setting himself up with a great chip and chase try down the sideline. Aaron Smith brought up our third try on the 25th minute mark, showing great hands to catch an expert offload from Nasi Manu who made a storming run down the left wing. With just over 30 minutes gone, Patrick Osborne, brought up the bonus point try when he dived on a 20 metre grubber from Ben Smith, competing only with team mate, Malakai Fekitoa, for the bragging rights. After an exciting first half the Highlanders led the Cheetahs 26-3.

Keen to not have a repeat of the second half against the Lions, the Highlanders kept the pressure on in the second half with Aaron Smith resumimg the scoring on the 45 minute mark. Smith scored a pick-and-go try after the Highlanders launched a multiple phase attack on the Cheetahs try line. Gareth Evans soon went over for his third try in as many games after completing a try that began inside the Cheetahs 22m line with Malakai Fekitoa busting up the mid-field. The Cheetahs then struck back with three quickfire tries in the face of a tiring Highlanders defensive line. But it was Ben Smith who sealed the result with a nice chip and chase try. Lima Sopoaga played his part again this week setting up tries and slotting four out of six conversions while substitute first-five, Marty Banks, converted Ben Smith's try to round out the game with a 45-24 bonus point win over the Cheetahs. On to Perth and the Western Force before heading home to play the Chiefs in Invercargill.  

HALFTIME: CHE: 3 - HIG 26

FULLTIME: CHE 24 - HIG 45

Cheetahs
Tries - R.Benjamin,C Wegner, F.Venter,
Pen - F.Brummer
Con - F.Brummer (3)
Cards - R.Rhule (42nd min yellow)

Highlanders
Tries - R.Tongia (2), A.Smith (2), P.Osborne, G.Evans, B.Smith
Con - L.Sopoaga (4), M.Banks

It was another great first half of rugby from the Highlanders, after last week's shock second half defeat to the Lions the Highlanders came out fired up for their second game in South Africa. They started strong with debutant Ryan Tongia notching up an early try after being on the receiving end of a perfectly weighted chip kick from Lima Sopoaga. The Cheetahs replied with a penalty only for Tongia to bring up his second try after setting himself up with a great chip and chase try down the sideline. Aaron Smith brought up our third try on the 25th minute mark, showing great hands to catch an expert offload from Nasi Manu who made a storming run down the left wing. With just over 30 minutes gone, Patrick Osborne, brought up the bonus point try when he dived on a 20 metre grubber from Ben Smith, competing only with team mate, Malakai Fekitoa, for the bragging rights. After an exciting first half the Highlanders led the Cheetahs 26-3.

Keen to not have a repeat of the second half against the Lions, the Highlanders kept the pressure on in the second half with Aaron Smith resumimg the scoring on the 45 minute mark. Smith scored a pick-and-go try after the Highlanders launched a multiple phase attack on the Cheetahs try line. Gareth Evans soon went over for his third try in as many games after completing a try that began inside the Cheetahs 22m line with Malakai Fekitoa busting up the mid-field. The Cheetahs then struck back with three quickfire tries in the face of a tiring Highlanders defensive line. But it was Ben Smith who sealed the result with a nice chip and chase try. Lima Sopoaga played his part again this week setting up tries and slotting four out of six conversions while substitute first-five, Marty Banks, converted Ben Smith's try to round out the game with a 45-24 bonus point win over the Cheetahs. On to Perth and the Western Force before heading home to play the Chiefs in Invercargill.  

HALFTIME: CHE: 3 - HIG 26

FULLTIME: CHE 24 - HIG 45

Cheetahs
Tries - R.Benjamin,C Wegner, F.Venter,
Pen - F.Brummer
Con - F.Brummer (3)
Cards - R.Rhule (42nd min yellow)

Highlanders
Tries - R.Tongia (2), A.Smith (2), P.Osborne, G.Evans, B.Smith
Con - L.Sopoaga (4), M.Banks

Tonight was certainly a game of two halves. The Highlanders had an exceptional first hald and led the Lions 20-3 going into the shed at halftime. There was a clear attacking game plan from the first whistle from both teams and the home side opened the scoring with a penalty to Marnitz Boshoff. The Highlanders struck back through the trustworthy boot of Lima Sopoaga who picked up a penalty and a drop goal. That was followed up with a well constructed try to Gareth Evans as the ball was shifted across the front of the Lions try line. Malakai Fekitoa finished the half with one of his trademark tries as he bust up the middle of the field for a 60 metre try leaving sprawling Lions defenders in his wake.

Unfortunately the Highlanders couldn't maintain the pace they set in the first half, whether it was the travel or playing at altitude, they appeared to run out of steam in the second half. The Lions struck not long after returning back to the field with a well constructed try to winger Courtnall Skosan to close the deficit. The Highlanders replied with surprise drop goal from Ben Smith under penalty advantage but that was soon followed up with a driving maul that ended in a try to the Lions bringing the game within 6 points and it wasn't long before the homeside went over for their third to bring the game within a single point. With 10minutes left on the clock the Lions slotted two penalties to complete their stunning comeback and took the game 28-23.

HALF TIME: LIO 3 - HIG 20

FULL TIME: LIO 28 - HIG 23

Lions
Tries - Skosan, Kriel, Vorster
Pen - Jantjies 2, Boshoff
Con - Jantjies 2

Highlanders
Tries - Evans, Fekitoa
Pen - L.Sopoaga
Con - L.Sopoaga 2
Drop - L.Sopoaga, B.Smith

 

The Highlanders started well with Gareth Evans going over for a try early on after a patient build up from the forwards. After pinning the Sharks down in their own half for an extended period of time Lima Sopoaga knocked over a penalty, with 20 minutes remaining in the half the Sharks replied with a penalty of their own and try to  which was followed up with a try to Mtawarira. With less than 10 miniutes to go in the first the scores were level 10-all. The Highlanders then scored two brilliantly constructed tries to the Fijian Flyers, Waisake Naholo and Patrick Osborne with Sopoaga continuing with his magic boot and 100% kicking to go into the sheds with a 24-10 lead over the Sharks. 
 
The half started with the South Africans on the charge, but the home side defense held strong against the Sharks forwards dominated attack phases. Mark Reddish brought up the Highlanders' bonus point try by diving on a loose ball from a lineout close on the Sharks line and soon after the Highlander's were back on the counter attack, Aaron Smith crossed over the line for another 5-pointer. The Highlander's weren't finished there and picked up a 6th try to Brendon Edmonds following a series of brilliant offloads and running rugby by a mixture of forwards and backs. The Sharks picked up a late consolation with Springbok hooker, Bismark Du Plessis, going over the line off the back of a driving maul only for Elliot Dixon to put an exclamation mark on the victory with a try of his own, burrowing over with help from two of his fellow forwards. A massive effort on attack and defense from the home side for the whole 80 minutes. Our forward pack more than matched their much vaunted opposition and our backs proved too hot to handle. 

HALF TIME: HIG 24 - SHA 10 

FULL TIME: HIG 48 - SHA 15 

Highlanders
Tries - G.Evans, W.Naholo, P. Osborne, M.Reddish, A.Smith, B. Edmonds, E.Dixon
Pen - L.Sopoaga
Con - L.Sopoaga 5

Sharks
Tries - T.Mtawarira, B.du Plessis
Pen - F.Zeilinga
Con - F.Zeilinga

Lima Sopoaga opened the scoring early with a penalty goal setting the tone for the first half, Malakai Fekitoa dotted down over the try line no long after in a try that was set up by winger to watch, Waisake Naholo. After playing the provider, Naholo then went over for his own 5-pointer when he fought through the attentions of three defenders to score what seemed an impossible try. Sopoaga doing his part by converting both tries to put the home side in front 17-0. The Highlanders were then called on to defend as the Blues camped themselves in our 22 looking to peg back the deficit but the visitors could not break the line and when the Highlanders swung back onto attack, Fekitoa went over for our third and his second of the night, proving too hard to stop from close. Sopoaga successfully converting and pushing the lead out to 24-0 going into the halftime break. 

It was Lima Sopoaga's unnerving boot that proved the difference tonight as the Blues came out a different beast in the second half, re-enetering the game with a clear intention. They scored two quick tries through the forwards with the honours going to Moala and Tuipulotu. The Highlanders were then reduced to 14 men after Joe Wheeler was shown yellow for a dangerous tackle. The additional man contributed to the Blues going over for their third try of the half through Keven Mealamu and give the visitors 17 unanswered points for the half and reducing the deficit to 24-17. The Highlanders replied with two penalties to Sopoaga but the Blues were not finished and got a bonus point try and Mealamu a double with minutes left on the clock  The visitors finished the 80-minutes hard on attack and it took a turnover from Sopoaga to finish the game, keeping the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy in Dunedin for another year. What a heart stopper! HALF TIME: HIG 24 - BLU 0 

FULL TIME: HIG 30 - BLU 24 

Highlanders
Tries - M.Fekitoa 2, W.Naholo
Pen - L.Sopoaga 3
Con - L.Sopoaga 3
Cards - J.Wheeler (yellow 56th min)

Blues
Tries - G.Moala, P.Tuipulotu, K.Mealamu 2
Con - D.Bowden, I.West