Planet Rugby

Highlanders win two on the trot

25th February 2011 06:00

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Jason Rutledge highlanders v chiefs

On a roll: The Highlanders win again

The Highlanders made it two wins from two outings in Super Rugby after beating the Chiefs 23-13 in Dunedin on Friday.

Highlanders pivot Lima Sopoaga missed an early penalty shot at goal, but made amends just two minutes later to open the scoring for the home side.

The Chiefs threatened the Highlanders line on several occasions in the opening quarter, but the hosts' defence was solid - keeping their visitors at bay and forcing a number of turnovers in the process.

Chiefs fly-half Mike Delany was able to level the scores with a simple penalty attempt in the 12th minute, but ill-discipline from his team-mates allowed the Highlanders to go back in front with another Sopoaga three-pointer.

The battle of the boot continued between Sopoaga and Delany with the latter raising the flags with another well-struck penalty from 40m out that tied the scores once again (6-6).

Delany showed he was just as good as scoring tries after a powerful run from number eight Liam Messam took the Chiefs deep into Highlanders' territory. From a standing start, Delany sidestepped his way past opposite number Sopoaga and made a quick dart to the line for an excellent try. The former All Black converted his solo effort and the Chiefs were looking good with a 13-6 lead.

And that's where the scores stayed after Delany missed a long-range penalty on the stroke of half-time.

The Highlanders started the second half with a roar and a hiss, after number eight Nasi Manu powered his over off the back of a 5m scrum. The hosts had been denied a try moments earlier, when the TMO was called in to see whether Jarrad Hoeata had grounded the ball. The decision went against them, but it mattered not as Manu's touchdown was clear for everyone to see.

Replacement Robbie Robinson added the conversion as the score were level yet again.

That seemed to spark the Chiefs, who made some strong runs into Highlanders' territory only to be forced back in the tackle where flanker Adam Thomson was instrumental in winning back the pigskin for his team.

Robinson's burst through the middle put the Highlanders within meters of scoring a second, only for Chiefs scrum-half Tawera Keer-Barlow to slow down the ball and kill off any momentum the home side had of pushing on. The result was a yellow card for Keer-Barlow and three points for Robinson and the Highlanders in the 59th minute.

The 14-man Chiefs watched another Robinson bounce off the posts, and at this stage called on their All Blacks Stephen Donald and Brendon Leonard to help save their skins.

But with the game still on a knife's edge, the Chiefs duo failed to make an impact, and instead it was the Highlanders who continued to press on for the win and were rewarded with a super try in the corner for Kade Poki who had too much pace to evade a Mils Muliaina tackle.

Robinson, who proved to be a game-breaking replacement, was on song with the conversion to extend the Highlanders lead to 23-13.

Donald had a chance two minutes from full-time to cut the deficit to seven points and steal a losing bonus point, but made a mess of his penalty attempt which means the Chiefs are pointless after two rounds of the competition.

The scorers:

For Highlanders:
Tries: Manu, Poki
Cons: Robinson 2
Pens: Sopoaga 2, Robinson

For Chiefs:
Tries: Delany
Cons: Delany
Pens: Delany 2

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 James Paterson, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Kade Poki, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Jimmy Cowan , 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 David Te Moana, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Joe Tuineau, 19 John Hardie, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Robbie Robinson, 22 Siale Piutau.

Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Dwayne Sweeney, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Tawera Keer-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Scott Waldrom, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Nathan White, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Ben May, 17 Daniel Perrin, 18 Culum Retallick, 19 Steven Setephano, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Tim Nanai-William.

Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)

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