The Highlanders lost to the Reds tonight in a close, tough encounter at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Coming from behind after a slow start, the Highlanders went within 1 point of victory to lose 34-33.
The Reds hit the scoreboard early, with a try to Hooker James Hanson inside the opening 10 minutes, Quade Cooper converted to put the visitors ahead 7-0.
The Highlanders responded with a couple of penalties to Colin Slade, before Buxton Popoalii busted out some fancy footwork to slip down the sideline, eventually leading to the Highlanders being awarded with a penalty. Aaron Smith took a quicktap to send Elliot Dixon over for the Highlanders first try, with Slade converting to put them ahead 13-7 inside the first quarter.
The Reds spent the next five minutes camped inside the Highlanders 22 m, before Flanker Liam Gill pushed himself across the line for a try. Cooper converted to put the visitors back in front 14-13.
With Andrew Hore receiving a yellow card for slowing down play, the Reds made good use of the advantage, crossing over for another try through number 8 Jake Shatz. The Highlanders closed the gap with a penalty to Slade, however still trailed by 16-21 heading into halftime.
An early second half penalty pushed the Reds further in front before halfback Will Genia slipped through some weak defence to go over for an easy try, Cooper adding the extras to extend their lead to 31-16.
Hosea Gear got the home side back on track when he crashed over for a try, finishing off a great run from Ben Smith and Popoalii who went close himself before offloading to Gear. Sopoaga, who had come on to replace Slade, converted the try to close the gap to 23-31.
The Highlanders further closed the gap with less than 15 minutes to go, Ma’a Nonu spinning out of a tackle to score near the posts. Sopoaga again added the extra 2 points to close it right up to 1 point, 30-31.
With 10 minutes left to play, Cooper pushed the Reds ahead again with another penalty before Sopoaga landed one of his own shortly after to bring it back to a 1 point margin, 33-34 to the Reds.
The Highlanders had the most of possession in the final moments, however errors at lineouts and poor passing cost them the chance to push for their first win of the season. The reds eventually awarded with a free-kick as the fulltime siren went off, choosing to kick the ball out and take the win 34-33.
Final Score: Reds 34 (21) Highlanders 33 (16)

Reds: 34
Liam Gill, James Hanson, Jake Schatz, Will Genia tries, Quade Cooper 4 con, 2 pen
Highlanders: 33
Hosea Gear, Elliot Dixon, Ma'a Nonu tries, Colin Slade con, 3 pen; Lima Sopoaga 2 con, pen

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