Reds keep Highlanders winless
The Highlanders remained winless this season, after the reds edged them by a single point (34-33) in Dunedin on Friday.
The Highlanders remained winless this season, after the Reds edged them by a single point (34-33) in Dunedin on Friday.
For the Reds there was a first win in Dunedin and a bonus point to boot. The foundation for this victory was laid in the first half which they ended leading 21-16 and the Highlanders fortunate to be that close, such was the Reds' dominance. In that half they scored three tries.
The Highlanders, who had the dominant scrum but in a game of only three first-half scrums, let themselves down at crucial line-outs but worse with poor kicking which was too often just a transfer of possession, and the Reds capitalised. Aaron Smith was the main culprit.
The Highlanders started attacking, till they kicked and the Reds attacked instead. Aaron Smith kicked, Hosea Gear knocked on and from the scrum there was some creative brilliance by Quade Cooper as he broke and turned the ball inside to James Hanson who was knocked down but not tackled and scored a try confirmed by the TMO. 7-0 after 6 minutes.
Two penalties by Colin Slade, one for offside against Anthony Faingaa who was playing his 50th match for the Queenslanders, and one against James Horwill at a tackle, and the score was 7-6 after 14 minutes. At the end of the match there would still be just a one-point difference.
Buxton Popoalii on the right wing for the Highlanders beat two men with remarkable stepping and the Highlanders attacked. The Reds were penalised slap in front of their posts but Aaron Smith tapped and gave to Elliot Dixon and the big No.8 burst through Cooper, Jake Schatz and James Hanson to score close in. 13-7 after 19 minutes.
Twice the Reds turned penalties into close-in mauls. The first time the Highlanders shoved the maul away. They did so initially at the second maul but the Reds were able to rush a group over for a try by Liam Gill. 14-13 with the Reds back in front.
Dominic Shipperley ran down the right, chipped and gathered the ball bouncing high. He gave to Jason Emery who seemed certain to score till mown down by Faingaa. But the Reds were hot on the attack. Will Genia chipped for the corner with a huge overlap on the left and was left to be satisfied with a penalty and a yellow card for Andrew Hore for deliberately and illegally trying to prevent the try.
Cooper had an easy penalty but it hit the upright and bounced back. This turned out to be happy fault as the Reds stayed attacking through phases till Schatz burst over under the posts. 21-13 after 29 minutes.
Hore off, the Highlanders nevertheless had some really good attacking movement as Gear cut clean through in midfield, Aaron Smith had a dart and Emery nearly broke clear.
Greg Holmes was penalised at a scrum, and on the stroke of half-time. Slade goaled. 21-16.
The Reds attacked and when, at a tackle, Chris King played Genia who did not have the ball Cooper goaled. 24-16 after 44 minutes, and it seemed that a Reds' victory was a foregone conclusion.
Hore threw into a Highlanders' line-out but, for the second time, they lost it and the Reds attacked. They had a five-metre scrum well infield on the left of the posts. Cooper went left as a decoy and Genia took a pass from Schatz to go outside John Hardie and inside Slade to score under the posts, the bonus-point try. 31-16 after 54 minutes. 13 minutes later it was 31-30.
First the Highlanders' went right and brilliantly Ben Smith created an overlap for Popoalii who raced for the line. Tackled by Faingaa, the Highlander popped the ball to Gear, over from the left wing, and Gear scored. 31-23 after 60 minutes.
The Highlanders built phases and Ma'a Nonu did what he does best -cut back, burst, spun past Cooper, Schatz and Ed O'Donoghue to score close in. 31-30 with 13 minutes to play.
A penalty at a scrum enabled Cooper to put the score out of penalty range. 34-30 with 10 minutes to play but a penalty by Lima Sopoaga made it 34-33 with 7 minutes to play.
The Highlanders had an excellent chance from a line-out well inside the Reds 22 but Liam Coltman overthrew and the Reds cleared.
Man of the Match: Will Genia. His presence in his team is priceless - skills, judgement, passing, kicking, breaking. He was brilliant.
For the Highlanders:
Tries: Dixon, Gear, Nonu
Cons: Slade, Sopoaga 2
Pens: Slade 3, Sopoaga
For the Reds:
Tries: Hanson, Gill, Schatz, Genia
Cons: Cooper 4
Pens: Cooper 2
Yellow card: Andrew Hore (Highlanders, 28 - professional foul, interfering with the scrumhalf)
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Buxton Popoalii, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore (captain), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 TJ Ioane, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Phil Burleigh.
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Aidan Toua, 22 Rod Davies.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)