Planet Rugby

Epic win for unbeaten Highlanders

10th March 2012 03:33

Share:

Aaron Smith scoring for the Highlanders near posts

First try-scorer: Aaron Smith

The Highlanders made it three wins out of three in Super Rugby after scrapping to a hard-fought 18-17 success over the 'Tahs in Dunedin.

In what was a titanic struggle between two sides looking to top their respective conference, the home outfit ultimately sneaked the four points.

Tries were scored by scrum-half Aaron Smith and openside flanker John Hardie, with Colin Slade kicking eight points after Lima Sopoaga left the under-the-roof action following a shoulder injury he sustained in the build-up to Smith's try.

The Highlanders now sit atop of matters in New Zealand and fully deserved their victory at Forsyth Barr Stadium after showing an inventive style that seemed down to a pre-conceived mindset.

Despite being 0-6 down with sixteen minutes played, the hosts turned down kickable penalties and instead set about going for the jugular, with Sopoaga taking it up from a quick tap and then finding his scoring half-back partner in support.

It was a sign of things to come from the home side as they went at the 'Tahs full throttle, with Adam Thomson heavily involved alongside fellow flank Hardie as they turned the screw. Their dominance was unrewarded though as they went into the sheds 8-9 down following three Daniel Halangahu penalties.

Upon the turnaround came a nightmare moment for Slade as the Waratahs came out on the attack and Pat McCutcheon charged down the full-back's clearing kick to score close to the uprights. Halangahu missed the extras in what turned out to be a key moment in the game.

But if the simple kicks were going astray, the difficult efforts were not and the Highlanders hit the front when Slade converted Hardie's try in the corner after a nice assist from Kade Poki.

In a see-sawing period of scoring, Halangahu immediately regained the advantage for the Waratahs with his fourth penalty from out wide, only for Slade's second penalty ten minutes later to put the hosts back in front 18-17 before a nervy finish saw the Highlanders hold on.

The scorers:

For Highlanders:
Tries: Smith, Hardie
Con: Slade
Pen: Slade 2

For Waratahs:
Try: McCutcheon
Pen: Halangahu 4

Highlanders: 15 Colin Slade, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 John Hardie, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Nick Croswell, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Replacements: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Culum Retallick, 19 James Haskell, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Kurt Baker, 23 Buxton Popoali'i.

Waratahs: 15 Bernard Foley, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Daniel Halangahu (c), 9 Sarel Pretorius; 8 Tevita Metuisela, 7 Pat McCutcheon, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Lopeti Timani, 19 Jono Jenkins, 20 Brendan McKibbin, 21 Tom Carter, 22 Brackin Karuaria-Henry.

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
Sunday , April 27
Toulon vs Munster15:30
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs Edinburgh19:05
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
Sunday , April 27
Wasps vs Bath13:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058