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Highlanders down Chiefs in Dunedin thriller


Highlanders 29 Chiefs 25

Going nowhere: Aaron Cruden is tackled by Nasi Manu.

Going nowhere: Aaron Cruden is tackled by Nasi Manu. Photo: Getty Images

The Highlanders have further loosened the Chiefs' hold on the Super Rugby title with a 29-25 win in a hard-fought contest that produced a nail-biting ending in Dunedin.

The loss was the third in a row for the Chiefs and it keeps the two-time defending champions outside the top six with two rounds to go.

But the Highlanders, despite being outscored three tries to two, find themselves up in third place as they bid to break a 12-year play-off drought.

Nasi Manu of the Highlanders spreads the ball.

Nasi Manu of the Highlanders spreads the ball. Photo: Getty Images

Highlanders versus Chiefs
View Match Statistics
Players Osborne (13min), Smith (49min) Tries 2 Tries 3 Players Sweeney (16min), Nanai-Williams (67min), Hohneck (75min)
Players Sopoaga 2/2 (100%) Conversions 2 Conversions 2 Players Cruden 2/3 (66%)
Players Sopoaga 4/4 (100%), Parker 1/1 (100%) Penalty goals 5 Penalty goals 2 Players Anscombe 1/1 (100%), Cruden 1/1 (100%)
Players Drop goals 0 Drop goals 0 Players

Lima Sopoaga's boot proved decisive, the five-eighth landing all his six shots at goal for 16 points to go past assistant coach Tony Brown's franchise season record of 150 points.

It was yet another narrow finish for the southerners, 11 of whose 14 matches this season have been settled by seven points or fewer.

They have finished on the right side of the ledger in six of them.

They broke a tight contest open in the 49th minute, with their three All Blacks - Aaron Smith, Malakai Fekitoa and Ben Smith - all involved.

After the home side absorbed a period of pressure, hooker Brayden Mitchell grabbed a turnover to set up a big breakout.

Aaron Smith decided against kicking, Fekitoa and winger Richard Buckman carried the attack upfield before Buckman, who also had a strong game defensively, timed his pass to put Ben Smith over.

The conversion made it 20-13 and two further Sopoaga penalties gave the Highlanders some breathing room.

Substitute back Tim Nanai-Williams gave the Chiefs hope with 12 minutes to go when he stepped his way over.

Another of the Chiefs' bench, prop Josh Hohneck set up a grandstand finish when he powered across the line with five minutes to go, but the Highlanders held on.

The first half featured a contest in which both sides were able to disrupt the other's set piece, meaning neither could create continuity.

After conceding an early penalty, the Highlanders got the game's first try after some strong running by midfield backs Shaun Treeby and Fekitoa created the chance for winger Patrick Osborne.

The Chiefs hit back almost immediately thanks to a wicked bounce from an Aaron Cruden grubber.

The ball beat a covering Ben Smith and landed in the hands of winger Dwayne Sweeney to dot down.


6 comments so far

  • What a performance by an out weighted Highlander pack, who showed "clear", domination in the set plays, rucks & mauls, line outs etc. A performance that brought back memories of good old "southern", forward play, of years ago. If the Highlanders can bring this sort of form to Sydney next, for their encounter, against the " Tah's", then we should be in for an excellent game. As we know, the "Highlanders" backs, can "speak for themselves", witht the likes of Fekitoa, Osborne, "Barracuda",Buckman, Aaron & the mercurial Ben Smith, in the starting lineup.. It will be an encounter that would be worth going a long way to see, but I myself, will be going with my heart & head. Go the Highlanders & go well. Your thoughts Chook?.lol.

    Roxburgh Hydro via Orange
    Date and time
    June 28, 2014, 8:13AM
    • @ Muzzo

      Hey, who would have thought, at the beginning of the season, that your unfashionable Zoolanders and my poor, pathetic Tahs would be where they are at the mo.
      And... AND they will get to play each other, next w'end, to decide who gets braggin' rights between you and me. Not bad, eh ?

      So, congrats on your win against the Chefs, as it must have been a ride of emotions. Heart in mouth stuff. For me it was much relief, having just watched the Tahs put away a brave and injured Brumby, to go top of the log.... yep, I can finally say it !

      Now, to complete the w'ends' trifecta.... wouldn't it be wondeful if the Force can hold their own, at home, and win against the Blues, eh @ piru ? :)

      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      June 28, 2014, 10:10PM
  • If the Highlanders had a decent number ten , they would take some beating.

    The Bush
    Date and time
    June 28, 2014, 5:35PM
    • @ Mankad.... "Highlanders had a decent No.10". What are you on about mate? Both " the Kurow Kid" (Parker) & Sapoaga, have youth on their side & brain, they have plenty of time over the next few seasons to capitalise on this, as they both do the basic's, plus very very well, not like one particular " show pony" of Kiwi birth that you have " North of the Border".

      Roxburgh Hydro via Orange
      Date and time
      June 29, 2014, 7:30AM
  • SBW wants to play rugby in NZ ready for RWC. I guess he has been watching Fekitoa play and maybe sweating that his position may be taken already?

    As to Landers vs Chiefs, the ABs in both teams played well and looked sharp

    Date and time
    June 29, 2014, 1:33PM
    • Why would SBW be sweating about Fekitoa, or did you not notice they play different positions?

      As for the Chiefs, Rennie is paying the price for being obsessed with rotation. It's no wonder his team is all over the place when his weekly changes are too.

      Date and time
      June 30, 2014, 7:05AM

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Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
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Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
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