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|Home team||Away Team|
|38 - 28||
Full time Highlanders 38-28 Blues. Is that the Blues season over? The bonus point may just keep them in it but that's certainly a very disappointing result for Sir John Kirwan's men. The match was won by an incredibly strong first half showing from the home side in which they starved the Blues of possession and attacked with precision. The Blues got their hands on the ball a lot more in the second 40 and managed to get themselves back into it but it always looked to be a bridge too far and as Highlanders kept the scoreboard ticking over with a few penalties they were always in charge.
80 CONVERSION, BLUES, KERR 28-38. Kerr adds two more but that's that.
80 TRY, BLUES, BRAID 26-38. The Blues lose the line-out but they'll get one more chance as there is a knock on from the Highlanders. They break through Frank Halai and then Charles Piutau who runs strongly into the 22. The hooter has gone but we play on with the Blues looking for a bonus-point try. As the ball gets stuck in a ruck the Blues get a penalty for offside and Gibson-Park takes it quickly. Braid picks up from the base and dives over.
79 YELLOW CARD, HIGHLANDERS, MACKINTOSH. We go upstairs to look at some foul play after Mealamu and Mackintosh exchanged some blows. Mackintosh gets a yellow but it all looked pretty mild.
79 Quick ball off the top of the line-out and Nonu hits it up in the midfield. It goes wide to Renata who tries unsuccessfully to round Ranger. The ball is spread wide to the far side and with time running out they keep it tight for a few phases before Nonu once again runs strongly, surging to within 5 from the line. A knock on from Ioane brings a halt to play.
77 Parker clears to 30 out. The Blues look to bash it up from the line-out but Hardie is all over the tackled player in the midfield and wins his side a penalty as the Blues don't release. Parker sets up a line-out on the Blues 10m line.
PENALTY, HIGHLANDERS, PARKER 38-21 From 39 out and 10 in from the touchline Parker finds the target and that's surely it.
74 Good pressure from the Highlanders as Dixon charges down an attempted clearance from Francis Saili and the Highlanders have a scrum five out a few metres in from the near touchline. And they get the penalty from the scrum as the Blues are penalised for collapsing.
72 It's Slade's last play of the night as he's replaced by Hayden Parker. Strong carry from Ioane and then Thorn as the Highlanders rampage forward. Dixon is five short but Murray knocks it on! Aaron Smith should have gone left to the backs rather than right to the forwards and the opportunity is lost.
70 Gibson-Park clears and the Highlanders run it up to halfway. Williams is penalised for a deliberate knock down just inside his own half and Slade will go for posts. A really harsh decision there, he was going for the ball, his intention was not to knock the ball down. Slade can't find the target with 10 to go.
68 CONVERSION, BLUES, KERR 21-35. Kerr reduces the deficit to 14 - is there a twist in this tale?
67 TRY, BLUES, LUATUA 19-35. Replacement TJ Ioane is pinged at the ruck and Gibson-Park takes it quickly and Boric gets them 5 short. The ball is shovelled on to Luatua who fights his way over.
66 Oh, so close for the Blues as Halai races onto a kick through and the men from Auckland are tackled 5 out from the line. A short line-out from the Highlanders goes wrong and the Blies are on the attack once more.
64 Some trouble at scrum time as we have two resets as a handful of new frontrowers get to grips with matters. A burst from Nonu clears the lines before Aaron Smith boots it just short of halfway.
62 Ben Smith clears under pressure and Halai runs it back at them. The Blues are starting to find their feet and as the ball goes wide they start to make inroads and Halai just can't hold on as Naholo runs down the flank. Highlanders scrum inside their own 22. Treeby and Hore are both subbed as Jamie Joseph brings on some fresh legs with his side flagging a bit.
60 For once the Blues are able to work the ball through the phases and they make good ground initially before being driven back a tad. They show patience but the ball foes wide to Naholo who is tackled into touch on the 22.
57 Gibson-Park clears from the restart and Ben Smith returns to halfway. The Highlanders are pinged at the breakdown and the Blues set up a line-out 10m out from the Highlanders line.
55 TRY, BLUES, RANGER 14-33. Ali Williams has a chance to have a long chat to the ref as a spectator has a bit of a run around the field in back play. Aaron Smith comes on for the excellent Tanaka. Great set move brings Braid into the line and he punches through the line hands off to Ranger who is in support and has the pace to finish.
53 Big shot from Gear! The winger lined up his opposite number from a mile out and it's a bone-crushing tackle. The Blues hammer it down field and the Highlanders look to run it back at them but Hire is pinged fro leaving his feet and the Blues have a line-out on the host's 22. It just goes from bad to worse for the Blues though as for the second time they're penalised for numbers coming in and out of the line-out.
51 It's happened again! Kerr is trying to give his forwards a chance but for the second time the restart doesn't go 10. The Highlanders move it up through Gear and Hore but some strong defence sees the ball turned over. Kerr grubbers into space but it's fielded by Renata. The Blues once again managed to get their hands on it in the tackle. Gibson-Park's pass is accidentally knocked down and the Blues have a scrum on their 10m line.
49 PENALTY, HIGHLANDERS, SLADE 35-7. Slade brings up 100 points for the season with another three-pointer, this time from halfway. you wouldn't think this is a man who has struggled with his goal-kicking this term.
48 The restart doesn't go 10 and the Highlanders have a scrum on halfway as Keven Mealamu comes on for his 150th Super Rugby appearance, behind just Nathan Sharpe in appearances. The Highlanders ahve the penalty as Angus Ta'avao goes to ground.
46 PENALTY, HIGHLANDERS, SLADE 32-7. From right out in front Slade makes no mistake.
45 The Highlanders take the scrum option and Slade brings it up to the line. Luke Braid wins the turnover and Ranger takes it forward. The Blues spread it wide but a loose pass from Saili allows Slade to clear. Quick throw from the Blues and they look to run it out of their own 22 but are pinged for obstruction.
42 Peter Saili takes the line-out but the Blues knock it on at the maul and Slade clears to the 10m. The Highlanders get a short arm as the Blues are penalised for bringing players in and out of the line-out.
41 The Blues get an early penalty from the restart.
Half Time Highlanders 29-7 Blues. Wow, I don't think many people saw that coming! The Highlanders have been superb in attack and that's what they've done all night, they've had three-quarters of the possession and territory and just haven't allowed the Blues to get in the game.
40 CONVERSION, BLUES, KERR 7-29. Kerr adds the extras.
40 TRY, BLUES, NAHOLO 5-29. The Blues have a chance with a line-out 10 out from their opposition's line and time nearly up on the clock. It goes over the top and the Highlanders hack it ahead. Waisake Naholo gathers and puts a little chip over the top. The Highlanders look to have it covered but the bounce of the ball conspires against them and two defenders collide to allow Naholo to collect and trot over for the try.
40 Gibson-Park puts in the high kick and it's fielded brilliantly by Slade. Strong defence from Kerr on Ellison and the Highlanders are pinged for going off their feet.
38 The Blues momentarily attack and a little kick is put in over the top and it nearly works out with Ranger lurking but the ball is knocked on and the Highlanders have possession back with a scrum just inside their 22. Slade clears and the Blues take the quick throw. Halai brings it up to halfway where he is tackled by Hardie who gets back on his feet and makes the steal. A great kick from Tanaka puts the Blues 5 out from their line. Luatua fields the line-out and the Highlanders are penalised, allowing the Blues some relief.
34 CONVERSION, HIGHLANDERS, SLADE 29-0. Slade extends the lead.
32 A short kick-off from the Blues but the Highlanders gather and Tanaka puts in the up and under. It's taken by Saili but a loose pass allows the Highlanders to get back on attack. Nnonu brings it up to the edge of the Blues 22.
30 TRY, HIGHLANDERS, SMITH 22-0. There is a sense of inevitability about this and as the ball goes wide it's received by none other than Smith who jinks inside and straightens, bulldozing over the line. Slade can't add the extras.
28 Braid spills it on the attack and the hosts clear. Saili clears with a bomb and it bounces awkwardly but Renata is able to collect and break back into the Blues half. Again the Highlanders attack with great purpose and they're consistently making ground as they move the ball through the hands. The attack is stymied a tad as they have to work really hard to keep the ball at ruck time out wide.
26 Overthrown by Parsons by Jamison Gibson-Park tidies up but a loose pass hands possession to the Highlanders but they're tackled into touch. Penalty to the Blues as Bekhuis is pinged at the line-out.
24 A break as we have a few players down. When we get going again the Blues will have a scrum on their 10m line after the Highlanders knocked on after putting pressure on the Blues following a chase from the kick-off clearance.
24 CONVERSION, HIGHLANDERS, SLADE 17-0. Slade nails another one! Good news on Weepu who just has a concussion, no neck injury and is recovering in the Blues changeroom.
23 TRY, HIGHLANDERS, ELLISON 15-0. All too easy for the Highlanders as Tuiali'i picks it up, passes to his left to Slade who hands off to Ellison who does well to see off Ranger and go over.
22 Haride and then Hore carry from the line-out before Gear, Ellison and Treeby all get their hands on it. Tanaka pops it up to Thorn and they're 2 from the line! The tackle turns into a maul and they're in danger of losing possession but the maul goes over the line so it's held up and the Highlanders have a scrum under the posts.
20 The Highlanders move it up to the 10m through a maul before Slade kicks down field but they go back for a penalty for the Blues being offside at the ruck and Slade sets up a line-out on the Blues 22.
18 PENALTY, HIGHLANDERS, SLADE 10-0. Slade extends the Highlanders' lead.
17 Hore sticks to his guns and calls for another scrum. Treeby is again brought in close and he shows great strength. Penalty for not releasing the tackle and the Highlanders tap and go. Another penalty for coming in from the side and Ali Williams is given a warning from referee White. They decide to go for the three points this time.
16 A break here as Weepu gets some attention. He got an accidental knee to the back of the head as Tuiali'i surged off the scrum. The game probably should have been stopped straight away as he's out for the count but referee White didn't see the prone player and one of his assistants didn't let him know. The scrum-half is stretchered off, never nice to see, he seems to be moving so hopefully it's not too serious.
15 Mose Tuiali'i breaks off the back of the scrum and he's made 20! The Highlanders move it from side to side and they're making ground with every move. Fumiaki Tanaka jinks inside and he's five from the line! The Blues defender tries to pull him into touch but the Blues are pinged for offside 5 fro their line.
13 Steven Luatua breaks through the middle and into the Highlanders half before handing it inside to Frank Halai who surges into the hosts' 22. Saili's pass doesn't go to hand though and it's a Highlanders have a scrum on their own 22. No surprise that the Blues look impressive with the ball in hand.
11 CONVERSION, HIGHLANDERS, SLADE 7-0. Slade adds the extras, a great start for the home side.
10 TRY, HIGHLANDERS, SMITH 5-0. Smith isn't held in tackle as he's hit hard but through some strong work breaks through. From the ensuing ruck he's at the base and sees things open up in front of him and he dives over. Smith has been everywhere and now he has an early birthday present!
9 The ball is cleared down field and birthday boy Ben Smith brings it back at them. Super hands from Ellison as the Highlanders keep the ball in play close to the near touchline. Trent Renata makes some metres into the 22 out wide. It's Gear this time who edges closer.
7 Treeby is brought in on the angle and he meets strong defence but is driven forward with the help of his team-mates. Again Slade takes the ball to the line (he's looking really good) and they're just short as the Thorn has a go. They get a penalty for offside and a massive sign of intent as they don't go for the easy three points and set up a scrum 10 in from the far touchline. Disappointment though as they're pinged for an early engagement!
5 Weepu puts in a high kick that is collected by Slade and the Highlanders spread it wide before grubbering it into the 22. The ball is back with the hosts and they're up to the Blues 10m. Smith breaks one tackle and makes some hard yards and the Highlanders remain on the front foot. Slade finds a little gap and they're up to the 22. This time it's Hore who breaks the tackle - a good passage of play here. The ball is deemed unplayable and the Highlanders have a scrum 10 from the Blues line. A great start to the line.
2 The Blues show an immediate willingness to run the ball and while they face solid defence first up the hosts are pinged for offisde and the Blues set up a line-out ont heir own 10m.
Extra Motivation The Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy is up for grabs tonight and both teams will be eager to get their hands on it. The late Hunter was a New Zealand player, coach and selector who played a big role in both Highlanders and Blues rugby.
Weather There is a light wind with overcast conditions but that won't stop these two from playing some running rugby.
Team news Highlanders boss Jamie Joseph has dropped All Blacks Ma'a Nonu and Aaron Smith for this clash, with Shaun Treeby and Fumiaki Tanaka replacing them at inside centre and scrum-half respectively. At fly-half, Colin Slade returns to the starting XV at the expense of Hayden Parker while Trent Renata replaces Jason Emery on the right wing. Among the forwards, Jamie Mackintosh starts at loosehead prop in place of Tony Woodcock and Jarrad Hoeata switches to blindside flank at the expense of TJ Ioane. The Blues have also rung the changes for this encounter, with Sir John Kirwan making five changes to his starting XV. James Parsons replaces Keven Mealamu at hooker, with Anthony Boric coming into the second row in place of Culum Retallick. Steven Luatua has overcome a neck injury and returns on the side of the scrum while among the backs Baden Kerr gets a run at fly-half and Waisake Naholo gets a run on the wing.
Welcome Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the Super Rugby clash between the Highlanders and the Blues in Dunedin.
Updates to appear here at 19:20 local (08:20 BST, 07:20 GMT)
|Friday 21st March|
|19:45||Worcester vs Wasps|
|Saturday 22nd March|
|14:00||Sale Sharks vs Northampton|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|17:30||London Irish vs Bath|
|Sunday 23rd March|
|14:00||Leicester vs Exeter|
|Friday 28th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale|
|Saturday 29th March|
|15:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:00||Exeter vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Northampton vs Leicester|
|Sunday 30th March|
|14:00||Newcastle vs Worcester|
|Friday 11th April|
|19:45||Sale vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 12th April|
|15:00||Worcester vs Exeter|
|15:00||Leicester vs Wasps|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Bath|
|Sunday 13th April|
|14:00||Saracens vs Northampton|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|Friday 18th April|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Leicester|
|Saturday 19th April|
|15:00||Bath vs Worcester|
|15:00||Exeter vs Sale Sharks|
|15:15||Wasps vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 20th April|
|14:00||Northampton vs London Irish|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Saracens|
|Saturday 3rd May|
|15:00||Bath vs Northampton|
|Sunday 2nd March|
|Newcastle 18 - 41 Leicester|
|Saturday 1st March|
|Northampton 39 - 13 Gloucester|
|Exeter 18 - 0 London Irish|
|Harlequins 21 - 20 Worcester|
|Wasps 17 - 21 Sale Sharks|
|Friday 28th February|
|Bath 10 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 23rd February|
|Saracens 23 - 10 Exeter|
|Newcastle 16 - 22 Northampton|
|London Irish 15 - 20 Leicester|
|Saturday 22nd February|
|Worcester 12 - 24 Sale Sharks|
|Bath 32 - 25 Wasps|
|Gloucester 25 - 20 Harlequins|
|Sunday 16th February|
|Leicester 11 - 8 Gloucester|
|Saturday 15th February|
|Exeter 23 - 27 Bath|
|Wasps 20 - 23 London Irish|
|Northampton 30 - 14 Worcester|
|Harlequins 18 - 14 Newcastle|
|Friday 14th February|
|Sale Sharks 10 - 15 Saracens|
|Sunday 9th February|
|Harlequins 11 - 10 Wasps|
|Saturday 8th February|
|Exeter 16 - 17 Northampton|
|Saracens 13 - 22 London Irish|
|Bath 24 - 6 Newcastle|
|Friday 7th February|
|Sale Sharks 24 - 19 Gloucester|
|Worcester 22 - 23 Leicester|
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