A refreshed Force team came out firing in the first half and were first to cross the try-line through fullback Dane Haylett-Petty after capitalising on an uncharatersitic error from Highlanders winger, Patrick Osborne. Converted by Peter Grant the Force lead by 7-0 after only three minutes. During the Force attack, Highlanders prop Brendon Edmonds suffered a knee injury and was helped off the field. This try was soon followed up by another try to Ben McCalman who barrelled through the defensive line to make it 14-0 in as many minutes.
Osborne finishes a great line-break with a run down the sideline to score the Highlanders first try, Hayden Parker converts and the Highlanders are now on the board on the 16minute mark. Osborne makes another great line-break and Dan Pryor finishes off some great Aaron Smith passing work to go over for another five-pointer. Parker converts the try and the scores are all tied up with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half.
The score line is level as the teams head into the sheds for a breather after a brutal first half.
After the break, both first-fives traded penalty goals early on to see the scores remain level at the 50 minute mark.
The Highlanders then took the lead for the first time in the game when Matt Faddes dived onto the ball after it was chipped into the in goal by a hard running Tom Franklin. Force first-five, Peter Grant narrowed the deficit with a penalty goal just before the 65th minute mark only for Parker to restore the 5 point buffer with a penalty goal of his own shortly after. The Highlanders then held onto possession for an extended period of time and were rewarded with a late try to Jason Emery after taking an offload from a tackle breaking Patrick Osborne.
The Highlanders came close to securing the bonus point before being being denied by the TMO right on the final buzzer.
Rest and recovery now for the team as the look towards playing the Queensland Reds in Brisbane next Saturday night!
HALFTIME: HIG 14 - FOR 14
FULLTIME: HIG 32 - FOR 20
Tries – P.Osborne, D.Pryor, M.Faddes, J.Emery
Pen – H.Parker 3
Con – H.Parker 2
Tries – D.Haylett-Petty, B.McCalman
Pen – P.Grant 2
Con – P.Grant 2
As always seems to be the way when we play NZ conference teams Saturday's game was a very physical battle.
The game really came down to us converting a couple of the several opportunities we created. The Hurricanes defence was aggressive and accurate and we needed the full eighty to finally get on top.
While I was proud of the way the guys stuck to the task, aspects of our game weren’t accurate enough, particularly our kicking game. To use kicking as an attacking weapon you need to be smart about where and how you kick and we were a little ragged in that respect.
We’re certainly expecting another quick game this week, the Lions are a big and mobile unit and already have two wins on this tour.
We will need to be on our game against a team that performed very well last year and is potentially one of the best South African sides this season. It was fairly hot under the roof last Saturday but it’s fantastic to have guaranteed good conditions for every home game.
If we can execute our game plan well this week I think we can all expect a fast thrilling encounter as both teams like to play at pace and use the ball.
Thanks for the amazing support we get at the game - it makes our home stadium, unique to us. All the players love playing at home in front of passionate, vocal supporters. So we encourage you all to get down to the park and support your team – it’s going to be another exciting game.
Cheers, Jamie, Brownie and team.
This game is living up to and exceeding all expectations, both sides are playing nothing short of top draw rugby at an absolutely frenetic pace. After a long opening period of play it was the Hurricanes who blinked first with Liam Coltman earning a breakdown penalty for Lima Sopoaga to open the scoring with. What followed was 25 minutes of fast paced ball in hand, end to end footy with both teams running and tackling hard before Sopoaga slotted his second penalty goal from 50 metres out and entended the lead to 6-0. It took until the 35th minute for the Hurricanes to find their reply with Ma'a Nonu going over on the wing after an extended period of pick-and-gos from the home side close to our line, Beauden Barrett unable to convert. But the Highlanders were not done and Elliot Dixon, playing his 50th Super Rugby game, took four defenders with him as he stormed towards the tryline to plant the ball as the hooter sounded! Sopoaga added the extra 2-points from the sideline to complete his 100% successful first half with the boot. This is the stuff of legends and we have one of the biggest 40 minutes in Highlander's rugby history to come!
The Hurricanes opened the scoring early in the second with a Barrett penalty goal only for the Highlanders to return fire with a try to Waisake Naholo, conversion unsuccessful. On the 55th minute mark Barrett knocked over another penalty to close down the deficit to 7-points. It took only another 10 minutes of play before Barrett knocked over another 3-pointer after a period dominated by the home side territory and possession-wise and then there was only 4-points in it. The Highlanders then took control of possession and slowed the game down through pick- and-go set pieces in an effort to wind down the clock. After what seemed an age of time had passed, substitute first-five, Marty Banks, slotted a clutch drop goal to extend the lead back out to 7-points. The Highlanders then finished off the game by keeping the ball in hand until the buzzer sounded and they cemented their place in Super Rugby history with their first ever Championship victory.
WE ARE THE MIGHTY HIGHLANDERS!!!
HALF TIME: HUR:5 - HIG:13
FULL TIME: HUR:14 - HIG:21
Tries - M.Nonu.
Pen - B.Barrett 3
Tries - E.Dixon, W.Naholo
Pen - L.Sopoaga 2
Con - L.Sopoaga
Drop - M.Banks
The Highlanders hold a good lead as the teams head into the sheds for the break. After dominating territory and possession early in the half, the Highlanders scored first with a driving maul try to John Hardie off the back of a 5 metre lineout. Our latest half centurion Shaun Treeby went over from close range for our second, proving too hard to stop from close range as the Highlanders committed to a series of pick-and-go's close to the Blues try line. And with time up on the clock Elliot Dixon crossed for our third off the back of a 10 metre scrum to sign off on a half dominated by the visitors.
The Highlanders bounced back well after last week's loss to the Hurricanes, finishing the regular season strong with a big win over the Blues at Eden Park. The visitors once again started strongly and were rewarded with a bonus point try after 50 minutes of play when Patrick Osborne danced down the left wing to score. Dan Pryor went over for our 5th shortly after on the back of quick recycling from our forwards and backs combined deep in the Blues 22m. On the 65th minute mark Joe Latta went over his debut Super Rugby try when he went down with the ball over the Blues tryline deep in the heart of a driving maul. The Blues struck back almost instantly with a try to replacement back Matt McGahan. The Highlanders then swung back onto the attack and put an exclamation mark on the win with a try to Ben Smith on the left wing when he caught a tap back from Osborne as Lima Sopoaga delivered the cross kick to the waiting wingers hands.
A big effort from the boys! Well done to Shaun Treeby on reaching his 50 game milestone and putting in a strong 80 minutes in minutes in the process. Bring on the play-offs!
HALF TIME: BLU - HIG:20
FULL TIME: BLU:7 - HIG:44
Tries - M.McGahan
Con - I.West
Tries - J.Hardie, S.Treeby, E.Dixon, P.Osborne, D.Pryor, J.Latta, B.Smith
Pen - L.Sopoaga
Con - L.Sopoaga 3
Cards - J. Hohneck (21st min yellow)
The atmosphere was electric with a virtual capacity of 22,500 fans packed into Forsyth Barr Stadium with the crowd bringing the noise! Both teams came out fired up and hit the line hard in attack and on defense. Both first-fives traded penalties early on and the score was at 3-all after 10 minutes of play. It took until the 23rd minute mark for the first try of the game, Aaron Smith made a big break off the back of a scrum and then found Waisake Naholo who crossed the line for his 10th try of the season. The Chiefs replied with 2 penalties which pushed them into a narrow 1-point lead going into the break.
A win built on the back of cohesive attack and never say die defense. Like they did in the first half, the Highlanders came out firing and scored a try early to none other than Naholo when he crossed on the right wing to become the competition's leading try scorer off a suberb run and offload from Aaron Smith. Lima Sopoaga pushed the lead out further with a penalty goal as clock brought up 60 minutes. The Chiefs replied through Brodie Retallick with the big lock reaching out to score after a sustained period of attack. Not long after Sopoaga knocked over a penalty and extended the Highlanders lead to 21-14. The Highlanders were then called upon to defend as the Chiefs threw everything at the home side's line, and defend they did, eventually forcing the all important turnover with minutes left on the clock. Following that crucial turnover they fought their way down-field and sealed the result with a penalty from out in front on fulltime.
What a match! Semi-Finals here we come! Thank you to everyone that showed up in support, it was your energy that got the guys home.
FIRST HALF: HIG:8 - CHI:9
SECOND HALF: HIG:24 - CHI:14
Tries - W.Naholo 2
Pen - L.Sopoaga 4
Con - L.Sopoaga
Tries - B.Retallick
Pen - A.Horrell 3