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Chiefs win secures Super Rugby finals spot


Nathan Burdon in Dunedin

Chiefs 27 Highlanders 21

Back in business ... Sonny Bill Williams offloads in the tackle of Tamati Ellison.

Back in business ... Sonny Bill Williams offloads in the tackle of Tamati Ellison. Photo: Robyn Edie

The Highlanders' season ended on a disappointingly flat note against the Chiefs at Dunedin Stadium tonight.


The 27-21 result effectively knocks the Highlanders out of the chase for the final wildcard spot with two rounds to play and leaves the southern franchise travelling to Brisbane next week for their final game of the season with little but pride and an improved finishing spot to play for.

Penalties either side of halftime to Chiefs first five Aaron Cruden, even if he was running on one leg, were blows to the Highlanders' ambitions after they had dominated territory through the first half.

Despite playing most of the rugby, the Highlanders found themselves chasing the scoreboard after tries to Tim Nanai-Williams and Robbie Robinson in the first half.

Both sides were guilty of the sort of errors you would expect from teams trying to regain their rhythm after a three week break and the lack of atmosphere from the 17,401-strong crowd at Dunedin Stadium did nothing to lift the home team.

The second half erupted after a late shoulder charge by a lethargic Sonny Bill Williams - perhaps preparing himself for when he returns to the 13-man code - on Nick Crosswell.

The ensuing dispute brought the game to a halt and the penalty eventually lead to Andrew Hore somehow being awarded a try in the murky depths of a goal line ruck.

The Highlanders were good at scrumtime, winning a couple of turnovers, which have been rare this season, while Adam Thomson was effective at winning attacking kick offs.

But the Highlanders were guilty of not being able to lift their intensity when they had the Chiefs stretched and the table-toppers were only too happy to punish them when they attacked on turnover ball.

After running the ball to either touchline early on and then attacking in close, the Highlanders were not able to recycle the sort of quick ball which makes their best players dangerous and they had no answer to some good Chiefs defence.

One of the main benefactors was Chiefs fullback Robinson, who continued the good form he showed on the same ground in the North v South game during the test window.

Robinson didn't have it all his own way, at one point running the ball back into a wall made up of his Southland team mates Jamie Mackintosh and Tim Boys, with a predictable result.

Around the park, Tawera Kerr-Barlow earned a points-advantage over All Black halfback Aaron Smith as the Chiefs made life difficult for the opposition by turning the back of the ruck into a snakepit.

Kerr-Barlow was prominent in the Nanai-Williams first half try and generally made a nuisance of himself.

Highlanders centre Tamati Ellison had a quiet night by his standards and then limped off late in the game with a leg injury, but Phil Burleigh worked hard inside him and saved what seemed a certain try in the second half to keep his team in the contest.

A late try by Hosea Gear had the Highlanders within a converted try of victory with five minutes left but it was too little, too late for the home team.

CHIEFS 27 (Tim Nanai-Williams, Robbie Robinson tries; Aaron Cruden con, 5 pen) bt HIGHLANDERS 21 (Andrew Hore, Hosea Gear tries; Chris Noakes 3 pen, Mike Delany con)

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45Leicester City Stadium
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 3 0 3 0 -49 0
Uruguay 2 0 2 0 -107 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 3 2 1 0 56 11
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 2 0 2 0 -32 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Tonga 3 1 2 0 -22 6
Georgia 3 1 2 0 -71 4
Namibia 2 0 2 0 -58 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Canada 3 0 3 0 -71 1
Romania 2 0 2 0 -61 0
View all

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