VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Highlanders Vs Chiefs (27-41), Dunedin, Super Rugby 2013
Friday 22 Feb 2013 6:41 p.m.
By James Bennett
Hello and welcome to Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin for the opening week of Super Rugby in New Zealand, tonight it’s the Highlanders taking on the Chiefs.
Both these teams will be looking to get their 2013 season campaigns off to a winning start.
The Highlanders have recruited well in the off-season, picking up All Blacks Ma’a Nonu, Tony Woodcock and Brad Thorn. Both Nonu and Woodcock are starting tonight, can they help get the southerners off to a winning start?
For the Chiefs 2012 was a near perfect season, culminating in being crowned Super Rugby Champions. However now they are a marked team, do they have the drive and ability to defend their title?
We bring you live streaming written commentary, video highlights (be sure to refresh your browser) and all the rugby action.
LIVE COMMENTARY… Fulltime: Highlanders 27 - 41 Chiefs
FULLTIME HIGHLANDERS 27 - 41 CHIEFS Thanks for joining us for the Super Rugby tonight, be sure to catch the Blues Vs Hurricanes here tomorrow night.
80 mins - There goes the hooter and the final whistle is blown, bonus point victory for the Chiefs and a clinical second half from them!. VIDEO UP of all the tries.
78 mins - Highlanders launch an attack looking for a consolation five pointer but the swarming Chiefs defence shut him down and Anscombe clears.
75 mins - The wind has really gone out of the Highlander's sails here...Chiefs closing this bonus point win out like a champion side does.
70 mins - Subs have rolled on as the Chiefs look to put the game beyond doubt...Latimer puts a chip through then is taken without the ball, here's Anscombe's chance to seal it....NOT A PROBLEM FOR ANSCOMBE! Three more points and now it's a 14 point lead.
68 mins - Could that be a defining moment in this match, it felt a bit against the run of play and could really hurt the home side. Another dagger potentially here as Anscombe lines up a 50m penalty attempt. NAILS IT! He has kicked really well tonight. Chiefs game to lose now.
66 mins - OK, how to explain, posession changed hands about five times in the latest passage of play. Chip kicks, grubbers, knock on's it had it all. Eventually Nanai-Williams found himself ball in hand on the left hand touch line, skinned an unfortunate Highlander and trotted his way to the line!. TRY TIME! Anscombe nails the sideline conversion. Quality display from him tonight.
63 mins - HERE COME THE HIGHLANDERS AGAIN! They break up the Chiefs defence thanks to Ben Smith and have worked their way to the 22m. Aww no, they've lost it at the ruck. Nnow it's the Chiefs turn. This has been the pattern of the match!
60 mins - Chiefs have a penalty near halfway and Anscombe decides to tap and go, sensing an opportunity. The visitors look to build phases and work toward the line...TRY TIME! It's punch/counter punch rugby. Tikoirotuma running one off the ruck simply steps his way to the line, looked fairly easy really! Simple conversion and the Chiefs have the lead again! You get the feeling there's more points in this one.
56 mins - PENALTY! Right in front of the sticks, the Chiefs infringing at the ruck. Sopoaga makes no mistake from close range, Landers extend the lead.
55 mins - We pack a scrum in midfield about 25 metres out, Highlanders hot on attack. Nonu puts them on the front dog with a bustling run.
53 mins - Everyone grab their breath! VIDEO is up of all the tries so far. Highlanders on attack, they have had the better of this second half so far.
48 mins - Tit for tat rugby...THE HIGHLANDERS ARE IN THROUGH KADE POKI. The move started on halfway, the Highlanders swung it to the left and Poki stuck out a massive fend to get rid of Nanai-Williams, from there he had too much gas and dives over to the delight of his team mates and the home fans. Try is converted and now its the Highlanders back in front!
44 mins - As in the first half, the Chiefs reply quickly. They work it up towards the line then go right. It's a numbers game with super hands from Gareth Anscombe to put winger Patrick Osborne in the corner for his debut try! Anscombe pushes the conversion across the face, Chiefs take the lead back.
42 mins - In team news Nasi Manu is off, ankle/foot injury. Chiefs kick off and Sopoaga replies with a kick down to halfway.
41 mins - Back underway and the Highlanders are straight onto attack, only five metres out! PENALTY from a ruck and the home side have a chance to take the lead through Sopoaga. There were strong runs from Nonu and the outside backs there. Sopoaga lines up the kick...nails it! Landers hit the lead.
40 mins - THAT'S HALFTIME. A late try to the Highlanders keeps them in it. Tune in soon for the second spell.
39 mins - TRY TIME HIGHLANDERS! From the right hand side the home side's backs give the ball some air, it goes down the chain to Gear who simply takes it, steps inside, throws a big fend and dives over. Killer blow before the halftime break. Probably calm down Jamie Joseph a bit also! Sopoaga nails the conversion from out wide and it's game on!
38 mins - As is the pattern in this first half, the Chiefs cough it up soon after and it's the Landers chance before the break.
36 mins - Nope, still a bit messy, Woodcock spills the pill and it's a Chiefs scrum. Woody gets all the pats on the back he could ask for.
34 mins - Chiefs did well from the 22m dropout but Aaron Smith put a decent hit on Sam Cane - who has had to leave the field - and now it's the home side's chance to attack just before the break.
30 mins - Chiefs get a relieving penalty from the lineout and clear through that man Anscombe. They kick again from open play but this one is too long, back to halfway for a Highlanders scrum. PENALTY! Manu's body position just to low at engagement. Sopoaga will have a crack from 50 metres...Strikes it well but just misses to the right.
28 mins - Highlanders go left then swing it back right, giving Poki a bit of space on the right wing, he tries to tip toe down it but is bundled out by Anscombe who is holding his own at fullback.
26 mins - Teams exchange kicks without much direction, everyone wants a go! Eventually we head to a Highlanders scrum about 35m out on the right edge.
23 mins - Chiefs are running amuck out wide! Tearing up through Nanai-Williams, they go close again, within five metres but are held up. Walsh was playing advantage so we go back for a penalty. Looks like Anscombe will have another crack. He keeps his perfect kicking record, Chiefs up 16-7.
20 mins - Wow! It's been a quick start to the Super Rugby season. Players take a moment to catch their breath before Nonu cleans up All Black team mate Aaron Cruden with a high shot and Anscombe doesn't need a second invitation for points - another great place kick and the Chiefs extend their lead.
15 mins - The Chiefs reply is swift! Tim Nanai-Williams scores a ripper. The Chiefs had a halfway scrum and spread it quickly. Nanai-Williams hit the gap and then simply out gassed Ben Smith on the outside to score a blistering five pointer...Anscombe converts from a difficult angle and the visitors are up.
12 mins - Helter skelter rugby, the Highlanders lost their lineout but got the pill back on halfway. From there they made a lovely run down the right hand flank, ball going through several hands. Landers went close and were awarded a penalty. They tapped it and were rewarded when Sopoaga spied a gap, got halfway through and flung a ball inside, who was there but Ben Smith with superb hands for the five pointer. Easy conversion. Landers hit the lead.
10 mins - Been a bit of a scrappy start so far - expected this early in the season. It's time for a Highlanders scrum on halfway 10m out from the left hand touch. PENALTY! Sopoaga clears down field.
6 mins - Highlanders with the ball again, first real chance in opposition territory. It's a bit messy but we eventually head to a Highlanders scrum on the 22m. Home side's scrum a little dodgy here to start with. They look to move it from the base but concede a penalty at the resulting ruck, Anscombe clears.
3 mins - Landers look to run but get themselves in all sorts of trouble, a great tackle from Sam Cane and he earns his side a penalty, about 40 metres out. Gareth Anscombe to do the kicking for the Chiefs - Cruden has a bit of a groin twinge. Steps up, nails it, Chiefs with the first points.
1 min - Chiefs get us underway and the home side field it then clear down to the Chiefs 22m. The visitors run it back strongly but it comes to a stop when Cruden drops the pill. Steve Walsh, looking pretty in pink, blows for the first scrum.
7:35pm - Great reception for the Highlanders, here we go it's time to play....
7:30pm - Players just about to make their way onto the field, Chiefs led by Craig Clarke and they get a typically cold reception from the Dunedin faithful.
7:25pm - Not far from kickoff now, not gunna lie a new Super Rugby season gets the excitement levels up there!
7:20pm - New look backlines here tonight, Aki and Nanai-Williams in the midfield for the Chiefs while the Highlanders have a bloke by the name of Ma'a Nonu playing for them. Should be a good watch.
7:15pm - Don't worry punters, I'm here. Speaking of punting, the Highlanders go into this one as favourites, they're at $1.60 while the Chiefs are $2.25 outsiders. Surely the defending champs are worth a bet on those numbers.
We will start commentary from 7:15pm bringing you the weather and ground conditions. In the meantime check out the video as Highlanders assistant coach Jon Preston looks at his team’s chances in 2013.
Highlanders: 1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Brayden Mitchell, 3. Ma’afu Fia, 4. Jarrad Hoeata (vc), 5. Josh Bekhuis, 6. Joe Wheeler, 7. John Hardie, 8. Nasi Manu, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Lima Sopoaga, 11. Hosea Gear (c), 12. Ma’a Nonu, 13. Phil Burleigh, 14. Kade Poki, 15. Ben Smith
Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Bronson Murray, 18. Elliot Dixon, 19. Tim Boys, 20. Fumiaki Tanaka, 21. Hayden Parker, 22. Buxton Popoalii
Chiefs: 1. Pauliasi Manu, 2. Hika Elliot, 3. Ben Afeaki, 4. Craig Clarke, 5. Brodie Retallick, 6. Liam Messam, 7. Sam Cane, 8. Fritz Lee, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10. Aaron Cruden, 11. Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 12. Bundee Aki, 13. Tim Nanai-Williams, 14. Patrick Osborne, 15. Gareth Anscombe
Reserves: 16. Rhys Marshall, 17. Ben Tameifuna, 18. Michael Fitzgerald, 19. Tanerau Latimer, 20. Augustine Pulu, 21. Charlie Ngatai, 22. Lelia Masaga
Pre match banter:
The first all-Kiwi match of the season shapes as a cracker. Both sides have been hit by injury but the emerging Highlanders will still like their chances of taking the big scalp of the defending champions.
The Chiefs are missing Richard Kahui, Robbie Robinson and Andrew Horrell from their backline, on top of Sonny Bill Williams' return to the NRL.
The Highlanders won't have suspended hooker Andrew Hore, as well as injured playmaker Colin Slade.
There was very little between both sides in their two matches last year and both possess strong packs and dynamic backlines. Aaron Cruden's class could be the difference.
Three players will make their first run-on start for the Highlanders when they play the
Tony Woodcock, Joe Wheeler and Ma’a Nonu will all pull on the Highlanders jersey for the first time.
In the reserves Liam Coltman, Fumiaki Tanaka and Hayden Parker are all primed to make their Highlanders debut if required.
There is also a tale of two mates in tonight’s contest with Jarrad Hoeata needing to put friendship to one side for 80 minutes.
The three-test All Black will oppose and Chiefs co-captain Craig Clarke at Forsyth Barr Stadium just weeks after he was best man at the lock's wedding.
"We've played together a lot for Taranaki so it will be interesting to play against him. We're great mates, but we'll be going toe to toe on Friday," he said.
Hoeata, 29, enters the season with much to prove after a subdued last year where he failed to recapture the dynamic form of 2011 which saw him earn All Blacks honours.
"I had a slow start to 2012 and I didn't quite reach the form of the previous year," he conceded after a pectoral muscle injury hampered his preparation.
This year his pre-season has been much smoother and he is eyeing a return to the black jersey.
"I really loved my time with the All Blacks in 2011 and I got that chance just from playing well with the Highlanders and it would be great to get another chance."
The Highlanders have won only one of their pre-season matches, losing to the Chiefs in Taupo, but he is optimistic about their prospects.
"It's hard to gauge anyone's form in the pre-season. I don't take a lot of notice of the results.
"The pre-season is more about combinations and getting game-time under your belt and that has been really beneficial to us."
"Team-wise, it (the goal) is definitely to win the competition. We see ourselves as contenders."
Injuries have blighted the Highlanders' preparations with Tamati Ellison out for most of the season, Colin Slade still working his way back to fitness and a host of niggles, but Hoeata said the players were taking the setbacks in their stride.
"We're used to it now and we just get on with it."