Planet Rugby

Highlanders beaten again

29th March 2013 08:20

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The Highlanders remain the only winless Super Rugby team in 2013 after suffering yet another defeat at the hands of the Reds, losing 34-33.

The struggling Kiwi outfit have now lost five games on the trot this season, and remain rooted at the bottom of the tournament standings after going down to the Reds for the first time ever in Dunedin.

The Reds outscored the Highlanders four tries to three in a highly-entertaining affair with James Hanson, Liam Gill, Jake Schatz and Will Genia all crossing the whitewash to help the visitors to their fifth win of the season heading into next week's bye.

The Queenslanders, who bagged their first four-try bonus point of the season, had looked to be cruising after opening up a 15-point second-half lead (31-16).

But Highlanders refused to roll over and closed to the gap to just one point after Hosea Gear and Ma'a Nonu crossed late on to give the hosts hope of a dramatic comeback.

However the Reds managed to keep their cool and closed out the match thanks to two Quade Cooper penalties. The visitors opened the scoring when they patiently worked their way up to the Highlanders line for hooker Hansen to cross and Cooper to convert for an early 7-0 lead.

The Highlanders struck back with two penalties by Colin Slade who also converted a deft try by Aaron Smith darting around the side of a scrum, to briefly take the lead.

Although the Reds were not playing to their full potential they were making fewer mistakes than the Highlanders as they struck back with tries to Gill and Schatz, in the countdown to half-time.

A Cooper penalty and Genia's try pushed the Reds out to a 31-16 lead before the Highlanders cut back their error rate and made a final push to close the gap.

Converted tries to Gear and Nonu brought the homeside to within one point of the lead with six minutes to play before they let themselves down again.

Given an attacking line-out close to the Reds line, the Highlanders lost their throw-in which allowed the Queenslanders the opportunity to kick themselves out of trouble again.

When back in Highlanders territory, Cooper landed his second penalty to push the Reds out to 34-30 before Lima Sopoagan kicked a final penalty for the Highlanders.

The scorers:

For Highlanders:
Tries: Dixon, Gear, Nonu
Cons: Slade, Sopoaga 2
Pens: Slade 3, Sopoaga

For Reds:
Tries: Hanson, Gill, Schatz, Genia
Cons: Cooper 4
Pens: Cooper 2

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Buxton Popoali'i, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn (c), 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 TJ Ioane, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Phil Burleigh.

Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Aidan Toua, 22 Rod Davies.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

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