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Highlanders Beat Blues

The Highlanders put on one of the performances of the season to defeat the Blues 38-28 before a crowd of 12,888 at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin last night. Scoring four tries in the first half to claim a bonus point, while also claiming the much cherished ‘Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy’.
 
The home side started strongly, with the ever reliable fullback, Ben Smith getting amongst the forwards early to dive over from a ruck, scoring the first try of the game following constant pressure. Colin Slade added the conversion from out wide to give the Highlanders a 7-0 lead after 10 minutes.
 
Blues halfback, Piri Weepu copped an unfortunate knee to the head in the 14th minute, leaving him unconscious for a few moments before being attended by medical staff and eventually removed from the field on a stretcher.
 
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan stated after the match that Weepu was okay, "He was knocked out and obviously the doctor was concerned about his neck. But he's walking around and talking. He can't remember much but he's in pretty good shape considering."
 
While Weepu was being attended, play continued, with his opposite Fumiaki Tanaka going close for a try before the Blues were penalised for not releasing him in the tackle. Colin Slade kicked the goal to make it 10-0 to the Highlanders.
 
Tamati Ellison added another five points to the Highlanders tally when he went through for a try, rolling his way out of a Rene Ranger tackle to dot the ball down. Slade again added the extras from out wide to push the Southerners out to a 17-0 lead with 23 minutes gone.
 
Ben Smith helped himself to a double, scoring his second try for the night after a solid build up from the Highlanders. Slade missed with the conversion, however the Highlanders were building a handy lead, 22-0 with 28 minutes complete.
 
The Highlanders grabbed a bonus point minutes later when Hosea Gear left the Blues in his wake, running it in for their fourth try of the night, finished off with a nice little dive. Slade regained his kicking form to add the extras, giving the Highlanders a healthy 29-0 lead.
 
The Blues were rewarded with a late first half try, thanks to a chip and chase effort from wing Waisake Naholo. Baden Kerr kicked the conversion for the visitors to give them something to smile about heading into the break. Highlanders 29-7 at halftime.
 
Colin Slade kicked a couple of penalties early in the second half to extended the lead to 35-7 before the Blues mounted a comeback. Rene Ranger and flanker Steven Luatua both picking up tries for the visitors, with Kerr adding the extras to bring them back into the match 35-21.
 
However, this was to be the Highlanders night, with the Blues causing too many errors and giving away costly penalties. Hayden Parker, who took the field for Colin Slade late in the game, kicked a penalty to give the home side a 38-21 lead with just over five minutes left to play.
 
After constant pressure in the final moments, the Highlanders went close to adding another try, although handling errors gave the Blues a chance with the ball which they made the most of. Jamie Mackintosh received a late yellow card, followed by a big applause by the Highlanders faithful in the stands.
 
Charles Piutau made a good break after the fulltime hooter, before Luke Braid grabbed a consolation try which also gave them a bonus point for their efforts. Baden Kerr kicked the goal to bring the scores to 38-28. The Highlanders now take a break from competition due to the June Internationals between the All Blacks and France, with their next game scheduled for June 29 against the Crusaders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin

Highlanders Named To Play To The Blues

Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium tomorrow night.  The match takes on additional significance with the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy on the line.

The trophy honours one of the characters of Otago rugby who was also in the unique
position of having coached both the Highlanders and the Blues.

Otago, under Hunter’s tutelage in the early 1990s, was regarded as one of the most exciting teams in New Zealand and had talent that graced the All Blacks, including players such as Jeff Wilson, Josh Kronfeld and Taine Randell. Hunter, who also played for Otago, was coach of Otago from 1992 until 1995 and became coach of the Highlanders in the first year of Super Rugby.

He then advanced to join the New Zealand selection panel; his first year produced the first test series win by the All Blacks in South Africa. At the end of Hunter’s tenure with the All Blacks in 1999, he took over as coach of the Blues, continuing in that role until ill health forced his retirement. Throughout his coaching career Hunter combined his passion for rugby with his profession as a detective. He died in 2002

Highlanders v Blues, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin – Saturday 1 June, 7.35pm.
1. Jamie Mackintosh
2. Andrew Hore (captain)
3. Ma’afu Fia
4. Brad Thorn
5. Josh Bekhuis
6. Jarrad Hoeata
7. John Hardie
8. Mose Tuiali’i
9. Fumiaki Tanaka
10. Colin Slade
11. Hosea Gear (vice-captain)
12. Shaun Treeby
13. Tamati Ellison
14. Trent Renata
15. Ben Smith
Reserves
16. Liam Coltman
17. Bronson Murray
18. Elliot Dixon
19. TJ Ioane
20. Aaron Smith
21. Hayden Parker
22. Ma’a Nonu

Highlanders Lose To Force

Final Score Force 19 (10) Highlanders 18 (6)

Scorers

Force
Tries - S.Ebersohn
Pen - J.Hayward 4
Con - J.Hayward
Cards - A. Mathewson (yellow 61st min)

Highlanders
Pen - H.Parker 2, C.Slade 4

Match Officials
Referee: Andrew Lees
Assistant Ref 1:Ian Smith
Assistant Ref 2:Michael Hogan
TMO : George Ayoub

Teams
Force
1. Pek Cowan,2. Heath Tessmann,3. Kieran Longbottom,4. Toby Lynn ,5. Sam Wykes,6. Matt Hodgson (c),7. Chris Alcock,8. Ben McCalman ,9. Alby Mathewson ,10. Sias Ebersohn,11. Nick Cummins,12. Kyle Godwin,13. Ben Jacobs ,14. Patrick Dellit ,15. Jayden Hayward

Replacements : 16. James Hilterbrand,17. Tetera Faulkner,18. Rory Walton,19. Richard Brown ,20. Brett Sheehan,21. Junior Rasolea,22. Sam Norton-Knight

Highlanders
1. Tony Woodcock ,2. Liam Coltman ,3. Ma'afu Fia ,4. Brad Thorn (captain) ,5. Josh Bekhuis ,6. TJ Ioane,7. John Hardie,8. Mose Tuiali'i,9. Aaron Smith ,10. Hayden Parker ,11. Hosea Gear (vice-captain),12. Ma'a Nonu ,13. Tamati Ellison ,14. Jason Emery ,15. Ben Smith

Replacements : 16. Andrew Hore ,17. Bronson Murray ,18. Joe Wheeler ,19. Elliot Dixon ,20. Fumiaki Tanaka ,21. Colin Slade ,22. Tino Nemani

Highlanders Named To Play Western Force

Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Western Force at
NIB Stadium tomorrow night.

Seven changes have been made to the starting XV that played the Bulls last weekend in
Pretoria.  In the forwards, a new front row will take the field with Tony Woodcock, Liam
Coltman and Ma’afu Fia joining the starting XV.  Josh Bekhuis returns from a shoulder
injury and will join Brad Thorn in the second row.  TJ Ioane will start on the blindside with Joe Wheeler
moving to the reserves.

In the backline, first five eighth Hayden Parker will start with Colin Slade moving to the reserves. Ma’a Nonu makes his return to the team after a knee injury, replacing Shaun Treeby who suffered a head knock last weekend.  The final backline change is Jason Emery who comes in for Tino Nemani – who moves to the reserves and is bracketed with Trent Renata.

Brad Thorn will captain the side.    

Highlanders v Western Force, NIB Stadium, Perth – Saturday 25 May, 9.40pm (NZ Time).
1. Tony Woodcock
2. Liam Coltman
3. Ma’afu Fia
4. Brad Thorn (captain)
5. Josh Bekhuis
6. TJ Ioane
7. John Hardie
8. Mose Tuiali’i
9. Aaron Smith
10. Hayden Parker
11. Hosea Gear (vice-captain)
12. Ma’a Nonu
13. Tamati Ellison
14. Jason Emery
15. Ben Smith
Reserves
16. Andrew Hore
17. Bronson Murray
18. Joe Wheeler
19. Elliot Dixon
20. Fumiaki Tanaka
21. Colin Slade
22. Tino Nemani/Trent Renata

Highlanders Lose To Bulls

The Highlanders horror season continued overnight as the Bulls notched up a comfortable 35-18 win at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria. The Highlanders struggled to gain much momentum throughout the match, as the game became largely dominated by penalties. Late tries to the Southerners bought the score closer, although their fate had largely been settled inside the first half.
 
The Bulls hit the board early thanks to a JJ Engelbrecht try inside the opening two minutes, Morne Steyn adding the conversion to put the home side ahead 7-0, before Colin Slade closed the gap up through a penalty, just minutes later.
 
Slade bought the Highlanders within one point with another penalty in the 14th minute, before Steyn responded with three penalties of his own to give the Bulls a handy 16-6 lead, in a passage where both sides struggled to gain much control of the game.
 
The Highlanders looked set to score a try heading into halftime, showing promise on attack while stringing 12 phases of play together, before coughing the ball up in-sight of the posts. Veteran Bulls winger, Akona Ndungane raced away from the resulting play to score a controversial try, as the pass to him appeared to have travelled forward after Engelbrecht lost control of the ball. Both sides had come back to what they thought would be a scrum, however the try was confirmed by the TMO. Steyn added the conversion to give his side a comfortable 23-6 lead at halftime.
 
Highlanders head coach Jamie Joseph rang the changes at halftime, bringing on four fresh players in Liam Coltman, Jason Emery, TJ Ioane and Tony Woodcock in an effort to turn the game around, although a try early in the second half to Bulls captain Pierre Spies (celebrating his 100th Super Rugby appearance) virtually shut the visitors out of the match.
 
Poor discipline hurt the Highlanders in the second spell, with winger Tino Nemani and Chris King both receiving yellow cards, leaving the Southerners to battle with fourteen players over a 20 minute period. The Bulls went close to scoring, although ultimately could not make use of the player advantage.
 
Further changes were made by both sides, with Japanese halfback Fumiaki Tanaka injecting himself well into the game, helping himself to a try inside the final 10 minutes to help close the score. Hayden Parker, who had also come on to replace Slade, took over the kicking duties to convert Tanaka’s try.
 
Bulls replacement halfback, Jano Vermaak gave his side a bonus point when he raced away from the back of a maul to score their fourth try of the match, with just three minutes left to play. Tamati Ellison showed his strength when he went over for a consolation try after the fulltime siren, Parker missed the conversion attempt from out wide although it didn’t matter as the Bulls had already sealed the win, 35-18.
 
The Highlanders head to Perth next week (Saturday May 25) to take on the Western Force at nib Stadium, with their hopes now set on pulling themselves up from the bottom of the competition standings. Kickoff is set for 19:40 NZ time.
 
Bulls 35 (JJ Engelbrecht, Akona Ndungane, Pierre Spies, Jano Vermaak tries; Morne Steyn 3 con, 3 pen)
 
Highlanders 18 (Fumiaki Tanaka, Tamati Ellison tries; Colin Slade 2 pen, Hayden Parker con)
HT: 23-6