The Highlanders clearly felt they only needed to put in one half’s worth of work in their 49-12 win over the Waratahs in Invercargill tonight.
That’s because they scored 42 of those points in the first 40, and the remaining seven came as time expired. It was a special night regardless for the Highlanders, celebrating Liam Coltman’s 100th game and potentially saying goodbye to up to 10 players.
Fullback Josh McKay, in for the injured Ben Smith, opened the scoring in the seventh minute after chasing his own kick and winning the battle for the ball with Tahs’ opposite Alex Newsome.
Tevita Li then finished off a sweeping move straight off the kickoff, and with Josh Ioane’s sideline conversions both sailing over, the home side looked to have made a perfect start. It got better soon after, as Tom Franklin blasted his way over after a 19-phase buildup.
But the Highlanders weren’t done yet. Waisake Naholo scored under the posts and then the forwards smashed the Tahs for a penalty try. Just before the break, Tei Walden made the score 42-7 after the Tahs managed to score against the run of play with a try to Newsome.
Things were looking ominous for the Tahs, after all, they are the team that once came to Christchurch and had 96 points put on them by the Crusaders.
However, the second half was incredibly flat. Neither side ever really threatened each other’s 22, and handling errors were rife. The Tahs scored a lovely try off a counter attack that was finished by Mack Mason, but that was about the only thing right they did other than tackling.
Rob Thompson managed to finish the game with a soft try under the posts, that was then converted by Elliot Dixon in what might be his last game for the Highlanders.
They now wait on the results of the rest of the weekend to see if they’ve made the playoffs.
Highlanders 49 (J McKay, T Li, T Franklin, W Naholo, T Walden, R Thompson tries, penalty try; J Ioane 6 con)
Waratahs 12 (A Newsome, M Mason tries; Mason con)