Injury mars Highlanders win over Hurricanes
PRE-SEASON REPORT: The Highlanders ended their pre-season campaign with a 35-12 win over he Hurricanes in Alexander on Friday.
The Highlanders were good value for their win in front of a 3000 crowd at Molyneux Park, although the Hurricanes were more aggressive and urgent in the first half – when both sides had their strongest lineups playing – and took a 12-5 lead into the break.
In the second spell, Highlanders replacements Solomon Alaimalo, Freedom Vahaakolo and Connor Garden-Bachop added some real edge with their running, with Folau Fakatava and Josh Ioane directing the attack cleverly.
Ngantungane Punivai and Garden-Bachop both went over for slick tries in the third quarter to give the Highlanders a 21-12 lead, and replacement Lentjes then scored two popular tries from a lineout drive.
However, Highlanders face a nervy wait on Fetuli Paea, who went down clutching his right ankle after falling awkwardly in a tackle at the end of the first half.
The big No.13 needed assistance as he hobbled off to give the Highlanders.
Speaking to Stuff after the match coach Tony Brown said he was hopeful that Paea’s injury wasn’t as serious as it looked.
“He’s obviously sprained his ankle, but we won’t know how bad until the morning when he wakes up,” Brown said.
“Hopefully it’s only a minor sprain and he’ll be good to go next week.”
The coach also commented on the return of Nehe Milner-Skudder, who was largely kept quiet and he was replaced after 40 minutes.
“It’s great to see him out there,” Brown said.
“It was the tougher half of the game, not quite as open.
“But I thought he entered into contact pretty well at times and got hit pretty hard a few times off the ball.
“I think it’s going to be huge for him going forward, just to keep getting more game time and keep putting his body under real pressure in the collisions.”
How good was that! Our first game of the season is next week against the Crusaders and we literally can’t wait 👀 26th February at Forsyth Barr Stadium, it’s the place to be 💥#itsabeautifulthing pic.twitter.com/PHJsbOP5cL
— Speight’s Highlanders (@Highlanders) February 19, 2021
Tries: Frizell, Punivai, Garden-Bachop, Lentjes 2
Cons: Hunt, Ioane 4
Tries: Barrett, Laumape
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Ardie Savea (captain), 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Alex Fidow, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia
Replacements: James O’Reilly, Tyrone Thompson, Tevita Mafileo, Tyrel Lomax, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Caleb Delany, Liam Mitchell, Vaea Fifita, Brayden Iose, Zane Kapeli, Tyler Laubscher, Luke Campbell, Cam Roigard, Orbyn Leger, Danny Toala, Vince Aso, Salesi Rayasi, Pepesana Patafilo, Lolagi Visinia, Ruben Love.
Highlanders: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Ngatungane Punivai, 13 Fetuli Paea, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 4 Jack Regan, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: Liam Coltman, Josh Hohneck, Jeff Thwaites, Josh Dickson, Bryn Evans, Folau Fakatava, Connor Garden-Bachop, Michael Collins, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, James Lentjes, Hugh Renton, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Solomon Alaimalo