The Highlanders were the last of the Super Rugby NZ clubs to play in round 14 last night. Unfortunately, they weren't the fifth New Zealand club to beat their opponents, instead losing to the NSW Waratahs 20-32 at their home ground of Forsyth Barr Stadium.
The 'Tahs beat the Highlanders. Credit: YouTube / Super Rugby Pacific.
The Highlanders were the first to get points in the third minute, thanks to a turnover and lock Josh Dickson scoring the five points. Eight minutes later saw Waratahs number eight Will Harris score five for his side, tieing 7-7.
Not long after, five-eighth Sam Gilbert was given a red card for an awkward lift tackle of Waratahs flanker Michael Hooper. The numbers advantage gave the Waratahs what they needed, with a huge floating pass to winger Mark Nawaqanitawase to score five points. Hooper joined in the scoring frenzy by scoring a 20-metre try of his own to put the Waratahs 19-7 by halftime.
In the 50th minute, a yellow card to the Waratahs had prop Paddy Ryan sent to the bin, levelling the squad equal for 10 minutes. Five minutes later a huge play from the right wing to the left gave Highlanders centre Scott Gregory a try in the corner.
The Highlanders would have the last say, as Scott Gregory offloaded to teammate Liam Coombes-Fabling to score the last try of the game. In the end, the Waratahs were ahead by 12 points.
Waratahs five-eighth Tane Edmed helped keep the team scores separated, converting all but one try, scoring a try of his own in the second half, and slotting two penalties.
The win puts the Waratahs past the Queensland Reds, moving into sixth place on the ladder. The last round match will see them take on the ladder-leading Blues at their Sydney home on Sunday.
Meanwhile the Blues won by just two points over the Brumbies on Saturday evening, thanks to Beauden Barrett's golden boot slotting a field goal to take the game 21-19 in Canberra. Barrett crushed the Brumbies' chances of winning completely at 35 seconds past 80 minutes.
Boots like Beauden. Credit: Facebook / The Blues.
It's the club's 12th straight victory and keeps them ahead on top of the ladder (54 points), six points ahead of the second-place Crusaders (48 points) in the Super Rugby Pacific standings.
The Hurricanes bested the Rebels 45-22, and the Chiefs were a force to reckoned with against the Western Force, 54-21, all on the same night as the Blues' win. It was an eight-try galore for the Waikato club, three of which midfield back Quinn Tupaea (Waikato-Tainui) secured by 46 minutes. It was also the club's 200th Super Rugby win.
Tupaea too much for the Force. Credit: Facebook / Gallagher Chiefs.
Friday night was when Moana Pasifika fell by 12 points to the Queensland Reds, 34-22. In Christchurch, the Crusaders demolished the Fijian Drua at home 61-3, seeing Tom Christie and Sevu Reece score two each.
The final round of Super Rugby Pacific this week will shape the quarter-finals. Tuesday has Moana Pasifika facing the Western Force, and Friday has Crusaders playing the Queensland Reds. Saturday has Moana playing their second game of the week against the Brumbies, the Waratahs taking the Blues, and the Fijian Drua meeting the Chiefs. The final Sunday of round-robin action sees the Force also play their second game of the week against the Hurricanes, and the Rebels facing the Highlanders.