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Blues

FULL-TIME
7     44

Highlanders

Super Rugby | Auckland
07:35 (GMT) | 12-06-2015
  • 81
Join us for more live coverage of Super Rugby as the Force take on the Rebels in Canberra up next.
  • 80
Blues trying to salvage a consolation as they have a scrum on the Highlanders 22m. A great set move releases McGahan down the middle, he plays inside but the ball is spilled and that brings the game to FULL-TIME.
  • 78
Sopoaga puts too much curl on the ball as the conversion sails wide.
  • 77
Evans picks up and goes for the line from the scrum and is just short again. They win the scrum and Sopoaga puts a cross-kick in for Osborne. Osborne jumps up collects and pops inside to Ben Smith who scores the try in the corner.
  • 75
Blues playing ball in midfield but Treeby reads them like a book and intercepts. Treeby finds Buckman who fires a pass inside to Evans who is just short. Ash Dixon drives over but is held up. Highlanders have a 5m scrum.
  • 73
Lloyd is penalised for playing the jumper in the air and Sopoaga kicks for touch. The Bues defence is up quickly on the Highlanders backline and Buckman is forced to rush a pass that goes forward. Blues win the scrum and Cowan fires the pass to West. The Blues forwards taking it up but the Highlanders make the turnover. They put a grubber though and the Highlanders a penalised for diving on a player.
  • 70
Geldenhuys is penalise at a scrum for over extending and West finds touch on halfway. O'Connor wins the line-out and Moala carries forward. A chip is put through for Nanai Vai to chase but the touchline wins the race.
  • 68
West converts the try for the Blues.
  • 67
The Blues are chipping away around halfway as they try to breach the defence. Moala eventually gets over the advantage line and he offloads to O'Connor who is away, he draws and passes to McGahan to scores a try under the poles.
  • 66
Sopoaga misses the conversion this time.
  • 65
Blues blown up for off-side and Sopoaga kicks for the corner. Latta secures the ball and they form the maul. Dixon has the ball at the back as they drive it over the line and Latta scores the try.
  • 63
Visinia brings it back for the Blues and Parsons then takes it up. Joe Latta is over the ball quickly and wins the penalty. Sopoaga puts a punt out to give his side a line-out on the Blues 22m.
  • 61
Cowan puts a little chip over for O'Connor to chase down, Smith reacts well and covers at the back to dot down for a 22m restart.
  • 59
The Blues keeping it with the forwards but the Highlanders defence is solid. The Blues are losing ground but they find some down the right flank as Visinia makes metres. The Highlanders are penalised for offside and West kicks for the corner.
  • 57
Sopoaga converts the kick to extend the lead for the Highlanders.
  • 56
Naholo steams in to take a falt pass from the line-out as he makes 10 metres. Smith plays both sides short before he goes left to Sopoaga who puts Pryor away and he dives over for the try.
  • 55
A knock-on after the restart hands the Blues a scrum but the home-side is penalised for over-extending by Mayhew. Sopoaga kicks for touch to set the Highlanders line-out.
  • 52
Sopoaga's conversion is good from the corner.
  • 51
Highlanders spread wide from the line-out but the Blues are quick to the breakdown to win the penalty. West kicks for touch but the Highlanders steal the line-out. Dixon picks and goes to make metres. Some slick handling releases Osborne down the wing and the big Fijian finishes well for a try.
  • 49
Blues win a line-out in their 22m and West puts a nothing kick to hand the Highlanders a line-out on the Blues 22m.
  • 47
Highlanders take a free-kick quickly from the scrum but the Blues steal the ball and kick downfield. Hughlanders counter well and are up to halfway. Smith puts a high box kick in and McGahan returns with a poor kick but follows up well to tackel Pryor into touch.
  • 45
Blues secure the line-out and attack well as Nanai Vai is released down the touchline. West snipes a gap and is looking for support. O'Connor looses the pill forward out wide and the Highlanders counter as Evans hacks a punt down field. The Blues counter form deep but a handling error hands the Highlanders a scrum.
  • 43
A good start from the Highlanders sees them camping in the Blues half for the first 3 minutes. Pryor is eventually penalised at the ruck and West clears for touch.
  • 41
SECOND-HALF: Blues flyhalf Ihaia West gets the game underway.

Half Time

  • 40
Sopoaga from an impossible angle, slots a great conversion to bring the game to HALF-TIME.
  • 39
Smith feeds the scrum and Dixon picks up and has a go for the line he uses his strength and scores the try.
  • 38
Moala makes a bust down field making 20 metres but again the Blues can't hold onto possession and the Highlanders run it back as Osborne finds space. Smoith puts a box kick over and all Visinia can do is kick it out inside his 22m. Highlanders a pressing the Blues line and they receive a penalty for the Blues slowing the ball down.They opt for a scrum.
  • 37
Visinia pumps one down to Highlanders 22m and Smith replies with a banana kick into touch.
  • 36
Once again the Highlanders turnover and Sopoaga clears downfield but Visinia kicks back however it is too long and play will resume with a 22m drop out to the Highlanders,
  • 35
West starts with a set-move from the scrum and Visinia off-loads well to Lam but he is out and the Highlanders have a line-out. Sopoaga clears for touch from and the Blues have a line-out which they lose. Smith puts it high but Lam is safe under the ball.
  • 34
A mistake from the restart and the Blues have a scrum in the 22m of the Highlanders.
  • 32
Sopoaga strikes it well and adds 3 points to the scoreboard.
  • 31
Sopoaga puts a delicate chip over the backline and Osborne collects the ball. The Blues are penalised for a ruck infringement and Sopoaga will attempt his third shot at goal.
  • 29
Highlanders scrum well and Naholo takes a flat pass busting through the defence maiing 10 metres. Highlanders back in the 22m of the Blues but the Blues turnover ball. Visinia puts a long punt downfield and takes play back into opposition territory.
  • 26
Sopoaga misses his second kick of the night.
  • 25
Sopoaga dictating traffic and Evans picks up good metres. Highlanders 5m out and playing under advantage. Treeby takes a short flat pass and powers his way over for the try.
  • 24
Highlanders win the ball back from the restart 22 and Sopoaga puts a kick in. Visinia returns the favour but it is out on the full. Highlanders now into the 22m of the Blues.
  • 22
West is having a shot at goal from a regulation distance but it just shaves the post for a miss.
  • 21
Smith clears from the line-out and the Blues secure the ball and attack. Josh Honeck is penalised for a no-arms tackle and shown a yellow card.
  • 19
Highlanders clear to touch and take play up to halfway. Blues secure the line-out and begin to attack. Triggs takes it up as the Blues keep it tight. West eventually puts a well-timed kick behind the Highlanders for a line-out inside the away team's 22m.
  • 17
Smith clears from the scrum but Piutau runs hard back at the defence. The Blues threatening well but again the the Highlanders turnover but Osbornes grubber goes out on the full and the blues will have another chance to attack.
  • 15
Moala sets a good platform going forward but Ta'avao's attempt to pick and go is lost forward for a Highlanders scrum.
  • 14
Highlanders with a scrum in their 22m after the restart and they kick out and Nanai Vai counters well. He breaks the line of defence but Ben Smith intercepts the off-load. Blues scrum in the Highlanders 22m.
  • 12
Sopoaga's conversion drifts wide.
  • 11
Pryor receives the ball and the Highlanders set the maul. It is well formed and they drive over as Hardy scores the try in the corner.
  • 10
Richard Buckman shows some strength as he fends off Moala. The Highlanders making ground and receive a penalty. Sopoaga sticks it right in the corner to set the line-out.
  • 8
Highlanders play the short side to Naholo but he chips out on the full for a Blues line-out. Highlanders steal the ball again but they go backwards through Buckman. O'Connor makes a good steal on the ground and the blues counter.
  • 7
The throw is not straight and the Highlanders have a scrum on the Blues 10m.
  • 6
Smith building inside the 22m with the forwards but Blues win a penalty and West clears for touch.
  • 4
Free-kick taken quickly by Edwards but the Blues lose the ball and the Highlanders reclaim possession but they kick it out on the full. The Highlanders win the line-out and they are attacking again in the 22m.
  • 2
Highlanders are inside the Blues 22 as the forwards look to set a platform. Ben Smith snipes for a gap but is offload is lost forward and the Blues will have a scrum.
  • 0
KICK-OFF: Highlanders flyhalf Lima Sopoaga gets the game underway.
  • -10
The Blues have won six of their last seven at home to the Highlanders and have only lost twice at home to the Dunedin-based side in Super Rugby. However the Highlanders have won five out of the previous seven games against the Blues in Super Rugby.
  • -20
The Highlanders will be desperate for a bonus point win is search of home-ground advantage in the preliminary round of the play-offs. While the Blues will be wanting to give some of their legends a winning send-off.
  • -30
Welcome to live coverage of Super Rugby Round 18 with the Highlanders taking on the Blues first up at Eden Park.
Mc blues logo 80x50
Blues
Mc highlanders logo 80x50
Highlanders
START LINE UP
  • 15 Lolagi Visinia
  • 14 Ben Lam
  • 13 Hamish Northcott
  • 12 George Moala
  • 11 Melani Nanai Vai
  • 10 Ihaia West
  • 9 Jamison Gibson-Park
  • 8 Joe Edwards
  • 7 Brendon O'Connor
  • 6 Chris Vui
  • 5 Josh Bekhuis
  • 4 Hayden Triggs
  • 3 Angus Ta'avao
  • 2 Keven Mealamu
  • 1 Sam Prattley
RESERVES
  • 23 Matt Vaega
  • 22 Matt McGahan
  • 21 Jimmy Cowan
  • 20 Jack Ram
  • 19 Will Lloyd
  • 18 Sione Mafileo
  • 17 Nic Mayhew
  • 16 James Parsons
START LINE UP
  • 15 Ben Smith
  • 14 Waisake Naholo
  • 13 Richard Buckman
  • 12 Shaun Treeby
  • 11 Patrick Osborne
  • 10 Lima Sopoaga
  • 9 Aaron Smith
  • 8 Dan Pryor
  • 7 John Hardie
  • 6 Elliot Dixon
  • 5 Joe Latta
  • 4 Alex Ainley
  • 3 Josh Hohneck
  • 2 Liam Coltman
  • 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
RESERVES
  • 23 Kurt Baker
  • 22 Marty Banks
  • 21 Fumiaki Tanaka
  • 20 Gareth Evans
  • 19 Jackson Hemopo
  • 18 Ross Geldenhuys
  • 17 Brendon Edmonds
  • 16 Ash Dixon
Mc article patrick osborne highlanders 630

Preview: S15 Round 18, Part One

Wed, 10 Jun 2015 21:36

There will passion and drama aplenty on the opening day in the final round of Super Rugby league action. Jan de Koning reports.

There will passion and drama aplenty on the opening day in the final round of Super Rugby league action.

The opening match will have a Blues team trying to say farewell to a number of legends by giving them a winning send-off.

However, they are up against a Highlanders team desperate for a bonus-point win that could secure them home-ground advantage in the preliminary round of the play-offs.

The Highlanders and Chiefs - who face the runaway leaders, the Hurricanes - are both on 48 points and with just a solitary point separating them in terms of points difference the men from Dunedin will be in no mood for gratitude towards the departing Blues.

We then hop across the Tasman Sea to Melbourne, where the Rebels and Force will go head to head in a dead rubber - a game with nothing but pride on the line.

We look at Friday's games!

Friday, June 12

Blues v Highlanders

(Eden Park, Auckland - Kick-off: 19.35; 07.35 GMT)

There is a lot more at stake for the Highlanders than the Blues.

They may already be in the play-offs, but they can finish anywhere from fourth to sixth. It is the latter they want to avoid, as that will in all likelihood involve a trip to cape Town and a meeting with the Stormers.

However, despite the need for a bonus-point win, the Highlanders are well aware that their first objective must be to get victory.

The Highlanders sit on 48 points, the same number as the Chiefs, and know if they get five points on Friday, the pressure will be on the Chiefs.

''We just have to get back to a bit of structure," loose forward Gareth Evans told the Otago Daily Times.

"We need to go up there and not worry about bonus points,'' Evans added.

''It's just about going out there and worrying about winning first and then everything else is out of our hands, whether we have a home play-off or we are travelling to South Africa.

''Obviously, we would love to have a home play-off and to get the Dunedin folk in behind us.

But that is out of our hands. We have to just go out there and put the result out on the field.

''What happens to the Chiefs and the Hurricanes is out of our hands.''

On the flipside, Friday's game marks the end of an era for three Blues stalwarts.

Veteran All Black hooker Keven Mealamu will be stepping on to the field for his last time in the Blues jersey. Tony Woodcock, who is out from play with a shoulder injury, and Luke Braid, out with a concussion, will be sitting in the Blues players’ box for their final game.

Mealamu says he is not letting his thoughts wander past the job in hand on Friday.

"I've been blessed to have been able to play in Super Rugby for 15 years, and this is certainly not the end of my rugby quite yet," Mealamu said.

"I will make a final decision on that at the end of the year," Mealamu added.

"In some ways it will be emotional to share my final Super rugby game on Friday with my teammates, my friends and especially my family.

"This has been a tough season for the Blues, but we can go out on a good note knowing we have performed to our best."

Recent results:
2015: Highlanders won 30-24, Dunedin
2014: Blues won 30-12, Auckland
2014: Highlanders won 29-21, Dunedin
2013: Highlanders won 38-28, Dunedin
2013: Blues won 29-18, Auckland
2012: Highlanders won 27-20, Auckland
2012: Highlanders won 30-27, Dunedin

Prediction: The Blues have won six of their last seven at home to the Highlanders and have only lost twice at home to the Dunedin-based side in Super Rugby. The last eight meetings between these two sides have seen an average aggregate score of 52 points per game. The Aucklanders have lost their last four at home to fellow New Zealand sides, with their most recent two defeats in that run each coming by over 20 points. The Blues boast the best tackle success in Super Rugby this season (88 percent). The Blues (9.1) and Highlanders (9.2) have won fewer penalties than any other teams this season. The Blues will start with a lot of passion, but in the end the Highlanders' greater class and desire will win the day - by at least two scores.

Teams:

Blues:
15 Charles Piutau, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Hamish Northcott, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Joe Edwards, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Keven Mealamu (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Will Lloyd, 20 Jack Ram,  21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 Lolagi Visinia.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Richard Buckman, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Dan Pryor, 7 John Hardie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Latta, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Kurt Baker.

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Shane McDermott (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Rebels v Western Force
(AAMI Park, Melbourne - Kick-off: 19.40; 17.40 AWST; 09.40 GMT)

The Rebels have made progress this season, the Western Force have slipped back - right out of the also-rans pack to being cannon-fodder.

For the Force all that is left is playing to give departing lock Sam Wykes a winning send-off.

However, Rebels coach Tony McGahan believes his team can showcase the progress they made this season with a commanding win at home.

McGahan is looking to mould the squad to a point where they can challenge for a title and winning a dead rubber like this - without letting the standards slip - will be a step in the right direction.

"We've got a hell of a lot to play for," McGahan said in an interview in the West Australian newspaper.

"We've built up some sort of credibility this year with the way we've performed.

"We want to make sure we protect that.

"People are here to be accountable, so there's no slackening off at any period.

"The last game of the season - it can really leave a bad taste in people's mouths if you lose."

Wykes admitted there will be "a little bit of emotion" in Melbourne.

"It's starting to sink in, but at the same time it's exciting," he told The West Australian, when asked about his pending departure to Japan.

"It hasn't been the best year and I would love to have achieved a little bit more in terms of personal honours and team goals, but I'm honoured to have played rugby in Perth and been a part of history.

"To put on the blue jersey with the boys was something I never took for granted.

"To finish off with a win would be great, to sing the team song for one last time," he said.

Recent results:
2015: Rebels won 21-17, Perth
2014: Rebels won 22-16, Melbourne
2014: Force won 32-7, Perth
2013: Rebels won 30-23, Perth
2013: Rebels won 30-23, Melbourne
2012: Rebels won 32-31, Perth
2012: Rebels won 30-29, Melbourne

Prediction: The Rebels have won their last four at home and have never won five on the bounce in Melbourne. The Rebels have won seven of the nine Super Rugby meetings between these two sides and have won their last three at home to the Force. No team has averaged longer in possession this season than the Force (17 minutes and five seconds) who have the best ruck success in the competition (96 percent). The Rebels have the worst line-out success this season (78 percent) while the Force are the fourth-worst team in that regard (83 percent). The Force (13.1) and the Rebels (13.8) have conceded fewer turnovers per game than any other teams this season. The Western Force showed, twice against the Waratahs, that they can beat the best. However, they ave not lacked the consistency that makes you think they can beat a much-improved Rebels outfit - who will by at least 10 points.

Teams:

Rebels:
15 Mike Harris, 14 Bryce Hegarty, 13 Dom Shipperley, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Cam Crawford, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Jordy Reid, 22 Ben Meehan, 23 Tom English.

Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Chris Alcock, 5 Steve Mafi, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements - from: Heath Tessmann, Chris Heiberg, Guy Millar, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Brynard Stander, Ryan Louwrens, Luke Burton, Patrick Dellit, Oliver Hoskins.

Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)

Compiled by Jan de Koning
@King365ed
@rugby365com


Statistical information provided by Opta Sports
 

Mc article blues v highlanders 630

Highlanders pile pressure on Chiefs

Fri, 12 Jun 2015 09:41

REPORT: The Highlanders advanced their cause for a homeground advantage in Super Rugby's preliminary round of play-offs.

The Highlanders advanced their cause for a homeground advantage in Super Rugby's preliminary round of play-offs with a 44-7 rout of a hapless Blues team  in Auckland on Friday.

The seven-tries-to-one victory means the Highlanders have moved into fourth place on the standings - ahead of the Chiefs.

It also piled the pressure on the Chiefs, who now have to beat the Hurricanes on Saturday by at least 38 points if they are to claim that all important fourth spot on the table, ahead of the Highlanders - which will bring with it the advantage of playing at home next week.

It also soured Mealamu's final Super Rugby match after a 16-year career spanning a competition-record 175 matches.

The 36-year-old hooker, who has also earned 123 Test caps for the All Blacks, is set to retire after New Zealand's World Cup defence later this year.

It completes the worst-ever season for the Blues, with the three-time champions managing only three wins and becoming the whipping boys of the New Zealand conference.

"Putting those results aside, they're good men to play alongside and I wouldn't have it any other way," Mealamu said.

"We've got some good talent coming through but it's important we learn from the lessons this year and become a stronger club."

With All Blacks Ben and Aaron Smith back after being rested for last week's loss to the Hurricanes, the Highlanders showed a willingness to attack, despite wet conditions early on.

The aggression paid off after 10 minutes - when John Hardie scored from a driving maul after Lima Sopoaga had found touch with a perfectly weighted kick.

Highlander Josh Hohneck was sin-binned for a shoulder charge, but the South Islanders scarcely skipped a beat, continuing to press until Shaun Treeby scored their second try after 25 minutes.

Flank Elliot Dixon raced from the base of a scrum to make it three as the half-time siren sounded, sending the Highlanders into the break up 20-0.

Under pressure Blues coach John Kirwan said it was the worst half his team had produced all year.

Mealamu was substituted off in the 46th minute to a standing ovation.

But his Blues continued to leak points, conceding a fourth try when wing Patrick Osborne smashed through a tackler to touch down in the corner.

Tries to Dan Pryor and Joe Latta continued the rout, before Matt McGahan put the Blues on the board with 13 minutes to go.

But the Highlanders were not done, with Ben Smith crossing for their seventh when he plucked Sopoaga's cross-field chip kick from the air and grounded the ball.

Man of the match: Don't bother looking at any Blues, they looked decidedly disinterested. The two Smiths, Ben and Aaron, were good value - as always. Lima Sopoaga recovered well from a couple of early misses at goal, while Elliot Dixon, Joe Latta and Alex Ainley all did yeoman work. However, our award goes to Highlanders No.8 Dan Pryor - who continued to raise his profile with the quality of his game.

The scorers:

For the Blues:
Try:
McGahan
Con: West

For the Highlanders:
Tries:
Hardy, Treeby, Dixon, Osborne, Pryor, Latta, B Smith
Cons: Sopoaga 3
Pen: Sopoaga

Yellow card: Josh Hohneck (Highlanders, 21 - foul play, shoulder charge)

Teams:

Blues:
15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Hamish Northcott, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Joe Edwards, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Keven Mealamu (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Will Lloyd, 20 Jack Ram,  21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 Lolagi Visinia.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Richard Buckman, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Dan Pryor, 7 John Hardie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Latta, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Kurt Baker.

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Shane McDermott (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Matt McGahan (67min)
TRIES
John Hardie (11min), Shaun Treeby (25min), Elliot Dixon (39min), Patrick Osborne (51min), Dan Pryor (57min), Joe Latta (65min), and Ben Smith (77min)
Ihaia West (68min)
CONVERSIONS
Lima Sopoaga (40min), Lima Sopoaga (52min), and Lima Sopoaga (57min)
 
PENALTIES
Lima Sopoaga (32min)
 
PENALTY TRIES
 
DROP GOALS
 
Josh Hohneck (21min)
 
 
VENUE Auckland
REFEREE Angus Gardner