VIDEO: Highlanders smash injury-riddled Stormers

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 05:28

SUPER RUGBY REPORT WITH HIGHLIGHTS: The Highlanders overcame some early match jitters to record a bonus-point victory over the Stormers.

Outscoring the visitors by five tries to two, the Highlanders held the Stormers scoreless for 50 minutes - including the entire second half - to record a 33-15 win.

The result also extended the Stormers' losing streak on New Zealand soil to 10 matches.

The Highlanders, in their enthusiasm to speed up the game, gifted the Stormers a couple of early scoring chances.

However, once the home team settled down, there was always only going to be one winner - despite some genuine endeavour by the visitors.

The alarming and fast-growing injury list did not help the Stormers' cause either.

The Stormers now have only one win from four, despite dominating territory, leaving captain Siya Kolisi frustrated at his side's error rate on attack.

"It's the same story every time," Kolisi said in his post-match reaction, adding: "We didn't hold onto the ball, we didn't come away with points when we got to the 22 and they did.

"We can't keep making the same mistakes every week."

Highlanders captain Ben Smith was pleased his players handled the physical challenge meted out by the Stormers, who face the Blues at home next week.

"They're big men, we had to match that and we did," he said.

"We didn't help ourselves at times [with handling errors] but that's an easy fix."

The Stormers conceded early despite coach Robbie Fleck's remarks before the match about the need to avoid last week's horror start against the Crusaders, when they let in four tries in the first 20 minutes.

All Black flank Liam Squire crossed for a five-pointer to finish a movement that began deep within the Highlanders' own half.

But this time the Stormers rallied to strike back with two tries and take the lead.

The first from Chris van Zyl came after they doggedly worked the ball through 15 phases.

Teenage flyhalf Damian Willemse then swooped on a loose pass and sprinted three-quarters the length of the field as his opposite number Lima Sopoaga chased in vain.

Aaron Smith evened the score at 12-12 after powerhouse wing Waisake Naholo fended off three defenders racing down the touchline to set him up.

Naholo then scored one of his own after winning an aerial duel, offloading and re-gathering to dot down between the posts.

The Highlanders were 19-15 up at half-time and only desperate Stormers defence prevented them scoring either side of the break.

The pressure eventually told when Luke Whitelock bulldozed his way over the line after a break from centre Rob Thompson.

The Highlanders looked to hit on the counter as the Stormers attacked in the final quarter but squandered two gilt-edged opportunities through handling errors.

Aaron Smith then put the result beyond doubt with two minutes to go.

Man of the match: The Stormers showed some guts, with Damian Willemse the most entertaining of the bunch.  Rookie Salmaan Moerat had a memorable debut. You can always bank on Ben and Aaron Smith for some great plays. Aaron Smith certainly came close to getting our vote. Luke Whitelock and Liam Squire were also good value. However, the most crucial plays were made by Highlanders wing Waisake Naholo and that is why he wins our award.

The scorers:

For the Highlanders:
Tries:
 Squire, A Smith 2, Naholo, Whitelock
Cons: Sopoaga 4

For the Stormers:
Tries:
 Van Zyl, Willemse
Con: Marais
Pen: Marais

Teams:

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Nabura, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Tyrel Lomaz, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Marino Mikaele Tu'u, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes.

Stormers: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 Jacobus Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 George Whitehead, 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Justin Phillips, 23 Johannes Engelbrecht.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

 

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