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Super Rugby | Dunedin
07:35 (GMT) | 01-05-2015
  • 81
Join us for more live coverage of Super Rugby as the Brumbies take on the Waratahs in an Australian Conference derby up next.
  • 80
Sharks with the ball trying to make something happen as the hooter has gone. Cronje plays a long ball to Sithole who slightly knocks forward to bring the game to FULL-TIME.
  • 79
Banks can't convert from the corner as the ball shaves the left-hand upright.
  • 78
Highlanders set a drive of their own and Tanaka is controlling at the base keeping it short. Tanaka plays wide on the short-side to Dixon as he crashes over for a try in the corner.
  • 76
Highlanders secure the line-out and use a set move in the backline as Naholo finds a gap. Sharks a penalised for being off-side. Banks kicks for the corner again for a Highlanders line-out.
  • 73
Both sides ringing the changes now as Sopoaga restarts deep. Sharks on the offense now on the 50m line. Cronje moves it left as they find some space with slick passing before Wentzel drops a sitter on the wing and the Highlanders have a scrum. Tanaka feeds the scrum and Banks clears down-field. Sharks are running from deep, but can't get past the Highlanders defence and the home-side are awarded a penalty from the ruck. Banks kicks for the corner.
  • 72
Cronje hits the pole as he attempts the conversion.
  • 71
Sharks set the drive again and they rumble their way over the line for a try to Du Plessis.
  • 69
Sithole makes some ground down the wing as he beats Osbourne and the Sharks are given a penalty as the Highlanders are off-side. Cronje kicks for the corner and the Sharks have a line-out on the Highlanders 5m.
  • 65
Sopoaga makes no mistake from in front of the poles as he converts the kick.
  • 64
Sharks win a scrum penalty and Zeilinga kicks for touch. Sharks secure the line-out and set the drive with Coetzee controlling at the back. Zeilinga spreads both ways before Wentzel receives it out wide and makes a good inside pass to Esterhuizen. The Sharks are 5m out but the Highlanders manage a turnover. The highlanders play it all the way out from their 5m with great continuity and support play. Osbourne makes a bust into the 22m after the Sharks as he off-loads to Pryor who pops to Edmonds who crashes over for a try.
  • 62
A ping-pong battle with the boot from the two teams before Osbourne decides to run it. Sopoaga kicks onto to Zeilinga. Hoffman box-kicks and the Highlanders counter through Naholo. A miss-pass from the Highlanders results in a scrum for the Sharks in midfield.
  • 60
Sopoaga hits the pole from the conversion attempt.
  • 59
Highlanders have the ball and Sopoaga pins the Sharks back with a grubber and the Sharks hae a line-out on their 5m line which they butcher, and the Highlanders clean up. Buckman straightens and off-loads to Aaron Smith who dives over for another try.
  • 57
Sopoaga extends the lead as he converts the kick.
  • 56
The ball is loose from the line-out as Wentzel slaps it back over the Sharks try-line and Reddish catches Hoffmann by surprise from behind and dots the ball down for a try.
  • 55
Esterhuizen clears from deep in his goal-line and the Highlanders have a line-out 10m out form the Sharks try-line.
  • 53
Smith puts a cheeky grubber through for Osbourne on the blind-side but the toucline wins the race for a Sharks line-out. Hoffman puts a clearance in for a Highlanders line-out on the Sharks 22m. Highlanders are 5m out from the try-line but a miss pass from Smith relieves the Sharks with a scrum.
  • 50
Zeilinga spreads to the ball to Pietersen from the scrum and he drops a sitter of a pass. The Highlanders have a scrom on the Sharks 10m.
  • 49
Aaron Smith puts a high one in and Mvovo takes it cleanly. Zeilinga identifies space to the right as he spreads to Pietersen but his off-load to Esterhuizen goes to ground for a scrum to the Highlanders on halfway. Smith plays Osbourne at first receiver. Sopoaga goes wide but Ben Smith knocks on. Scrum to the Sharks on the touchline near the halfway.
  • 47
A Big shove from the Highlanders at the scrum gives them a penalty as the Sharks collapse. Sopoage kicks for touch and the Highlanders have a line-out just outside their 22m.
  • 44
Hoffmann feeds the scrum and Alberts picks up and drives forward. Hoffmann keeping the ball with the forwards. The Highlanders defence is strong as the Sharks lose ground after 13 phases. Alberts eventually beats some defenders and Lewies is held up over the line for another scrum.
  • 42
Sharks set an early drive from a line-out and earn a penalty. Zeilinga kicks for the corner and the Sharks set another drive in the Highlanders 22m. Its rumbling forwardand Coetzee is a couple of meters short. Du Plessis is over the line, and Referee Angus Gardner has gone upstairs to the TMO. It is inconclusive and the Sharks will have a 5 meter scrum in the corner.
  • 41
SECOND-HALF: Sharks flyhalf Fred Zeilinga gets the half underway.

Half Time

  • 40
The hooter has gone and the Sharks lose the ball at the ruck as the Highlander pinch it and launch an attack down the left-hand side, Mvovo comes to the rescue as he intercepts a pass and takes the ball to touch for HALF-TIME.
  • 39
Osbourne claims a mark in their 22m, and Ben Smith makes the clearance to touch.
  • 37
Sopoaga curls another one in from the corner to convert the kick.
  • 36
Highlanders have a scrum on halfway as Smith plays left. Smith finds some space and the Highlanders are up into the 22m of the Sharks. Sopoaga spreads left with a loopy skip pass to Osbourne who crashes over the line for a try in the corner.
  • 35
Sopoaga kicks a beauty from the corner as he raises the flags.
  • 34
Reddish gives a penalty away from the kick-off and the Sharks kick for touch. Highlanders steal the ball and are attacking on the 50m line. Oosthuizen gives a sloppy penalty away and Aaron Smith takes it quickly and makes a fast 30m he passes to Ben Smith and he is taken down in the 22m. Sopoaga puts a deft chip kick to the corner and Naholo catches and dives over in the corner for a try.
  • 31
Zeilinga converts the extra 2 points to level the scores.
  • 30
The line-out is uncontested as the Sharks set the drive. Reinach play Alberts as he breaks 4 tackles but running laterally. Lewies makes meters and is one meter short. Mtawarira picks up and drives over the line for a try.
  • 29
Sharks win a penalty from the line-out as the Highlanders collapse the maul. Zeilinga finds touch on the Highlanders 22m. They set a drive from the line-out and Coetzee breaks off. Pryor is penalised for not releasing Coetzee in the tackle and the Sharks have another penaly out in front. Wentzel opts for the corner.
  • 26
Sharks with a line-out in the Highlanders 22m, but they can't secure the ball. Sopoaga can't find touch and Zeilinga returns one back. Smith makes sure and kicks the ball out on the Sharks 10m.
  • 24
Wentzel opts for the poles and Zeilinga converts to put the Sharks on the board.
  • 23
Zeilinga's restart goes too far and the Highlanders have a scrum on halfway. They use as set move and play left with Buckman. The home-side lose the ball and the Sharks regather. Zeilinga puts one high in the air and Osbourne spills it forward as he attampts to catch it. One of the Highlanders players was off-side and the Sharks earn a penalty.
  • 22
Sopoaga makes easy work of the penalty as he adds a further 3 points to the Highlanders.
  • 21
Reddish secures the line-out, Osbournes takes the ball at first receiver and bashes over for meters. Sharks a penalised at the ruck for for hands in. It is right out in front and Sopoaga will have a shot at goal.
  • 19
Smith darts from the scrum and is 3m out. Untidy play from the Highlanders sees the Sharks turn over the ball. Reinach clears and puts the ball out on their 10m for a highlanders line-out.
  • 16
Highlanders secure the line-out and Sopoaga pins the away team back in their 22m again. The Sharks butcher the line-out and the Highlanders have an attacking scrum 10m out from the Sharks try-line.
  • 13
Sharks receive a penalty from the line-out and they clear for touch. Zeilinga kicks deep again as Naholo returns the favour. Sharks now with the ball in the middle of the park but Coetzee is turned over and Ben Smith counters with a break up the midfield. Osbourne is brought down and the ball comes loose. Sithole relieves the pressure with a kick into touch.
  • 11
A kick exchange between the two sides sees the Highlanders come away with the ball as Sopoaga drives them back with a kick behind the back-three for a Sharks line-out deep in their 22m.
  • 8
Sharks with a scrum feed 30m out form the Highlanders try-line. After a number of resets, Reinach feeds and their set move is read like a book. The Highlanders manage a turnover and the end result is a Highlanders line-out on halfway.
  • 5
Sopoaga strikes the ball clean to take a 7-0 lead.
  • 4
Highlanders getting some early phases together and they have a line-out on the Sharks 22m. Highlanders break their way into the 22m as Naholo crashes over the advantage line. Smith spreeads to the left and Ndungane is left stranded on defence as he rushed up to try make a ball-and-all tackle, but Evans beats him and scores a try.
  • 2
Sharks claim the restart and set a maul early. Reinach breaks blind and finds some space, his chip ahead goes out on the full for a Highlanders line-out. Smith puts a box kick in and Sithole catches but is bundled into touch.
  • 0
KICK-OFF: Highlanders flyhalf Lima Sopoaga gets the game underway.
  • -5
Weather is dry as always at the covered Forsyth Barr stadium.
  • -10
The Highlanders will be boosted with the return of their rested All Blacks - Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Malakai Fekitoa. The Shark though have some of their own stars returning in Bismarck du Plessis and JP Pietersen.
  • -20
The Highlanders will be boosted with the return of their rested All Blacks - Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Malakai Fekitoa. The Shark though have some of their own stars returning in Bismarck du Plessis and JP Pietersen.
  • -30
Welcome to live coverage of Super Rugby Round 12 with the Sharks taking on the Highlanders first up at Forsyth Barr stadium.
Mc highlanders logo 80x50
Mc sharks logo 80x50
  • 15 Ben Smith
  • 14 Waisake Naholo
  • 13 Malakai Fekitoa
  • 12 Richard Buckman
  • 11 Patrick Osborne
  • 10 Lima Sopoaga
  • 9 Aaron Smith
  • 8 Nasi Manu
  • 7 Dan Pryor
  • 6 Gareth Evans
  • 5 Mark Reddish
  • 4 Tom Franklin
  • 3 Josh Hohneck
  • 2 Liam Coltman
  • 1 Kane Hames
  • 23 Jason Emery
  • 22 Marty Banks
  • 21 Fumiaki Tanaka
  • 20 Elliot Dixon
  • 19 Joe Latta
  • 18 Pingi Talaapitaga
  • 17 Brendon Edmonds
  • 16 Ash Dixon
  • 15 Odwa Ndungane
  • 14 S'bura Sithole
  • 13 JP Pietersen
  • 12 Andre Esterhuizen
  • 11 Lwazi Mvovo
  • 10 Fred Zeilinga
  • 9 Cobus Reinach
  • 8 Willem Alberts
  • 7 Etienne Oosthuizen
  • 6 Marcell Coetzee
  • 5 Marco Wentzel
  • 4 Stephan Lewies
  • 3 Lourens Adriaanse
  • 2 Bismarck du Plessis
  • 1 Tendai Mtawarira
  • 23 Waylon Murray
  • 22 Lionel Cronje
  • 21 Conrad Hoffmann
  • 20 Renaldo Bothma
  • 19 Mouritz Botha
  • 18 Matt Stevens
  • 17 Dale Chadwick
  • 16 Franco Marais
Mc article forsyth barr stadium 630

Preview: S15 Round 12, Part One

Wed, 29 Apr 2015 20:28

The opening day of Super Rugby's round 12 is divided between winners and losers. Jan de Koning looks at Friday's matches.

The opening day of Super Rugby's round 12 is divided between winners and losers.

First up is two teams desperate to stay in the play-off race after defeats in their last outings.

The sixth-placed Highlanders host the 10th-placed Sharks in Dunedin.

The Sharks, with just five matches remaining after this week, are coming off their first bye of the season. However, they lost their last three matches. The Highlanders, who lost to the Brumbies last week, have followed up each defeat this season with three consecutive victories.

We then head across the Tasman Sea for the all-Australia derby between two teams that recorded impressive wins last week - the Brumbies hosting the Waratahs in Canberra.

The Brumbies showed some real championship potential in their demolition of the Highlanders, while the Waratahs were less convincing in their victory over the Rebels.

We look at Friday's matches!

Friday, May 1

Highlanders v Sharks
(Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin - Kick-off 19.35; 09.35 SAST; 07.35 GMT)

Personnel movements have formed a crucial part of the build-up of both teams this week.

The Highlanders, who have stacked up the injuries and are without 11 squad members,  lost lock Joe Wheeler this week.

His season appears to be over after he injured his medial knee ligament against the Brumbies last week and is set to go under the surgeon's knife.

Having been a key part of the team in the past two or three seasons and having played every game for the Highlanders this season, his absence is a huge blow.

The Sharks, in contrast, welcomed back three internationals - hooker Bismarck du Plessis, having served a four-match ban, lock Stephan Lewies and utility back JP Pietersen, the latter two returning from injury.

The return of Du Plessis and Lewies gives the Sharks a physical edge the Highlanders are very wary of.

''They're a pretty physical team, from what we've seen," centre Richard Buckman told the Otago Daily Times.

"They will look at our last game and attack with the rolling maul.

"But if we stick to our game plan and keep them away from line-outs and penalties and get it out the back, then we should be right.''

Buckman admitted the next few games will be vital to the Highlanders' cause, as they look to cement their place in the play-off zone.

''The boys have done the job in the first half of the season and we just have to bring on the second half of the season," he said.

"Just keep on bringing those performances together.''

Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold also spoke of the importance of starting the four-match Australasian tour with a win.

"I'm not into predictions, but at the end of the day we realise that, mathematically, we still have a chance to resurrect this season and give ourselves a chance to get into play-off contention," he said, adding that their focus though is on this game ahead.

"We've prepared well for Friday, we have some very tough games on tour, we know this."

He said the return of the Bok trio is a huge boost for the team.

"It's a boost in strength and depth to have people like Bismarck [du Plessis] and Stefan Lewies back with us.

"It will be a tough contest in Dunedin, but if we play well on the weekend we can pick up a good result and get a nice head of steam and have a good, successful tour; that's the goal."

Recent results:
2014: Sharks won 31-27, Durban (preliminary play-off match)
2014: Highlanders won 34-18, Durban
2013: Highlanders won 25-22, Dunedin
2012: Sharks won 28-16, Durban
2010: Sharks won 30-16, Dunedin
2009: Sharks won 23-15, Durban
2008: Sharks won 19-17, Dunedin

Prediction:  The Highlanders have won their last four at home against South African sides, but three of those wins via a margin of a converted try or less. Twelve of the Highlanders' last 14 home games have been settled by losing bonus point margins (they won 10 and lost four) and just one of these matches has seen a final points difference hit double figures. The Sharks have won four of their last five away games against the Highlanders, but the blemish in this run came in their last visit. The Sharks are coming off three consecutive defeats; their worst run of form since losing five on the trot in April and May 2013. Only the Sharks (21.8) and Cheetahs (21.5) have averaged more missed tackles than the Highlanders (21.2). The Sharks have a very realistic chance of winning. They certainly have the personnel to do so. However, the lack of cohesion shown so far this season by the Sharks suggest the Highlanders will have just too much in the tank and win by seven points.


Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 Dan Pryor, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Pingi Tala’apitaga, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Jason Emery.

Sharks: 15 Odwa Ndungane, 14 Sibusiso Sithole, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel (captain), 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Etienne Oosthuizen, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Waylon Murray.

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride, Mike Lash
TMO: Vinny Munro

Brumbies v Waratahs
(GIO Stadium, Canberra - Kick-off: 19.40; 09.40 GMT)

Both the Brumbies and Waratahs this week spoke of the need to dominate "physically" in this vitally important conference derby.

It was just six-weeks ago that the Waratahs knocked the Brumbies from the top of the Super Rugby standings in Sydney and since that point in time the Brumbies have ridden a bumpy road, winning just two from four matches.

On that sunny afternoon in March the Waratahs won by 15 points and while the eventual scoreline didn't reflect the tightness in the match, what was clear was that the Waratahs were physically superior to the Brumbies.

With that in mind, Brumbies forward Jordan Smiler said that the team's training throughout the week would be centred on physicality.

"We definitely need to front up physically, because that's where they beat us last time so that's our big area of focus this week in training," Smiler said in an interview on the Brumbies' website.

Test prop Ben Alexander also said that the team needed to come out firing so that they could reduce the impact of the Waratahs' outside backs.

"Yeah they definitely won the collisions last time," Alexander said.

"We'll obviously take lessons from that and look at why that was and work on areas to make sure that we up it because they definitely got the ascendency which then gave guys like Izzy [Israel] Folau good ball and we saw he eventually  got man of the match.  

"Their backs definitely rely on good front foot ball and their forwards did a good job of doing that last time."

The Waratahs identified the importance of dominating the set pieces.
 Last Friday, against the Highlanders, the Brumbies scored three first-half tries from rolling mauls.
And while the Waratahs' Michael Hooper also scored a try from the rolling maul against the Rebels, Waratahs second row forward Mitch Chapman said that his side would need to nullify and be proactive against his former side's set-piece pet play.
 "Yeah obviously their rolling maul is going to be a big point - they scored three tries from it over the weekend - and that's definitely a point that we'll have to nullify," Chapman said on the Waratahs' website.
 "I think once the maul is set up really well it's hard to stop.  Either defending it in the air or stopping it before it gets going is very crucial.  They've got a very technically good maul so once they get set-up we'll be in a bit of trouble so we'll have to look at getting stuck in early."
Chapman's teammate Paddy Ryan also commented about the importance of winning the set pieces and said that with the injury to Scott Sio, the Waratahs would look to exploit his absence in the scrum.
"Yeah they'd be up there [with the best scrums in the competition]," Ryan said.  

"But I think they'll be missing Sio, who's obviously been scrummaging very well this year and I think in terms of penalties this year, he's been one of the best."

Recent results:
2015: Waratahs won 28-13, Sydney
2014: Waratahs won 26-8, Sydney (semifinal)
2014: Waratahs won 39-8, Sydney
2014: Brumbies won 28-23, Canberra
2013: Waratahs won 28-22, Sydney
2013: Brumbies won 35-6, Canberra
2012: Brumbies won 19-15, Sydney
2012: Brumbies won 23-6, Canberra

Prediction: The Waratahs have won the last three meetings between these sides, each by margins greater than two converted tries. The Tahs restricted the Brumbies to an aggregate of 29 points scored in this run. The Brumbies have won their last three home games against the ‘Tahs and have lost just twice at home to the NSW outfit in Super Rugby. The Brumbies have won 12 of their last 13 home games, however their last two defeats in Canberra both came at the hands of fellow Australian Conference opposition. The Waratahs have won six of their last seven away from home, with five of these wins coming by margins of at least 10 points. The reigning champions have won two in a row but have not won three straight in 2015. The Brumbies are the only side yet to score a try from a possession that originated within their own half but have scored the most (18) when starting out with the ball in the opposition 22. The Tahs have scored 13 tries when starting with the ball in the attacking half, but more than 22-metre from the try line, a competition high. The Brumbies have looked vulnerable against teams that take them on physically and the Waratahs are one of the most physical outfits in the competition. They may well repeat their dominance of earlier in the season and win by 15 points.


Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Robbie Coleman, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Michael Dowsett, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Jordan Smiler, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Joe Powell, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Dave Dennis (captain), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements - from: Tolu Latu, Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Mitch Chapman, Stephen Hoiles, Pat McCutcheon, Brendan McKibbin, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Matt Carraro.

Compiled by Jan de Koning

Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article lima sopoaga highlanders 630

Highlanders smash sloppy Sharks

Fri, 01 May 2015 09:29

REPORT: The Highlanders handed the hapless Sharks another lesson, beating the troubled South African team 48-15 in Dunedin on Friday.

The Highlanders handed the hapless Sharks another lesson, beating the troubled South African team 48-15 in Dunedin on Friday.

They outscored a sloppy Sharks team by seven tries to two in an entertaining encounter - if you were a Highlanders supporter.

For the Sharks and their dwindling band of supporters it was another dark day, their fourth consecutive defeat in what is a nightmare season for the Springbok-laded team.

It is the third time this season the Sharks have conceded more than 40 points and follows the equally dreadful 10-52 loss to the Crusaders last month.

The Highlanders showed why they are rated as one of the most dangerous teams from turnovers, while the Sharks' most effective form of attack was using their bruising big forwards to bash it up around the fringes and also some mauling.

However, the Sharks were let down by a shockingly high error count and some stodgy, predictable play - with some of their plays best described as 'amateur hour'.

The Highlanders, in stark contrast, were all enthusiasm and inventiveness - looking to speed up the game and expose the Sharks' porous defence.

The Highlanders got off a perfect start - exploiting a rash of early errors by the Sharks, with Gareth Evans easily brushing off a half-hearted attempted tackle by Odwa Ndungane to get the opening try of the match. Lima Sopoaga's conversion made it 7-0 after five minutes.

Sopoaga made it 10-0 after 21 minutes with a penalty, as the Sharks continued to pay a dear price for their high error count.

The Sharks eventually got on the board in the 25th minute, Fred Zeilinga slotting a rare penalty awarded to the visitors.

That gave the visitors the momentum and belief they wanted.

They pinned the Highlanders in their own half, even though some of the kicking was rather aimless. And the pressure started to tell when Tendai Mtawarira barged over from close range after a line-out maul became a ruck and then a few quick phases. Zeilinga levelled the scores at 10-all.

That didn't last long.

A two-try blitz in as many minutes saw the Highlanders take a 14-point (24-10) lead into the half-time break.

First Waisake Naholo went over in the right corner from a pin-point chip-kick by Sopoaga, before a blistering counter attack - in the wake of another Sharks turnover and a few sloppy tackles - allowed Patrick Osborne to show his finishing ability in the left corner. Sopoaga's trusted boot added both conversions.

The Sharks started the second half with some urgency, but their execution let them down. In the early  stages after the break they went through 20 phases, twice being held up over the line by some determined Highlanders defence, and then conceding a penalty.

Any hope of a comeback was quickly dashed.

Two tries - by Mark Reddish and Aaron Smith, both coming after the Highlanders pounced on sloppy play by the Sharks - saw the score race out to 31-10 before the final quarter arrived.

Brendon Edmonds added further insult to injury when he went over under the uprights in the 64th minute - coming from some sublime interplay by the Highlanders. Sopoaga kicked two of the three conversions top make it 36-10.

Bismarck du Plessis got a consolation score in the 70th minute, as the Sharks' maul finally produced some dividends, but replacement Lionel Cronjé's conversion attempt hit the upright - an epitome of the Sharks' game, wasted opportunities.

The rout was completed when Elliot Dixon flopped over to make the final score 48-15.

Man of the match: Willem Alberts was as brutal as ever, while Bismarck du Plessis worked hard on his return from a four-match ban to redeem himself. Nasi Manu lead the forwards in impressive fashion, while Mark Reddish was also an influential figure. Waisake Naholo and Patrick Osborne again showed their finishing ability, while Ben Smith was as devastating as ever with ball in hand. Aaron Smith also exposed the Sharks defence with some sniping runs. However, our award goes to Highlanders flyhalf Lima Sopoaga, who could do no wrong - from sublime chip-kicks to pin-point offloads and near flawless goal-kicking.

The scorers:

For the Highlanders:
Evans, Naholo, Osborne, Reddish, A Smith, Edmonds, Dixon
Cons: Sopoaga 5
Pen: Sopoaga

For the Sharks:
Mtawarira, Du Plessis
Con: Zeilinga
Pen: Zeilinga


Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 Dan Pryor, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Pingi Tala'apitaga, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Jason Emery.

Sharks: 15 Odwa Ndungane, 14 Sibusiso Sithole, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel (captain), 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Waylon Murray.

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride, Mike Lash
TMO: Vinny Munro

Gareth Evans (4min), Waisake Naholo (34min), Patrick Osborne (36min), Mark Reddish (56min), Aaron Smith (59min), Brendon Edmonds (64min), and Elliot Dixon (78min)
Tendai Mtawarira (30min) and Bismarck du Plessis (71min)
Lima Sopoaga (5min), Lima Sopoaga (35min), Lima Sopoaga (37min), Lima Sopoaga (57min), and Lima Sopoaga (65min)
Fred Zeilinga (31min)
Lima Sopoaga (22min)
Fred Zeilinga (24min)
VENUE Dunedin
REFEREE Angus Gardner (Australia)