Live updates: Super Rugby Pacific - Highlanders v Blues at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium

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Highlanders 20 Blues 60

Highlanders - Hunt & Timu tries; Gilbert 2 penalties & 2 conversions

Blues - Telea 2, R Ioane 2, Clarke, Renata, Papali'i & Barrett tries; Barrett 7 conversions & 2 penalties

Second half 

40th minute - The siren sounds, as Funaki feeds a scrum inside his own half. Blues win a penalty from the scrum, but shift left, where they concede a penalty.

Hunt kicks towards halfway, as the Highlanders chase that mythical consolation try. They win the lineout and enter Blues half, but they lose ground and turn the ball over.

Blues go on attack again, but Telea drops a pass and Highlanders try to counterattack, but Papali'i intercepts.

Blues lose the ball inside Highlanders 22 and Burns kicks ahead, but Barrett covers it and reverse-passes infield. Someone just needs to kick the ball out...

Into our sixth minute of extra time, Harmon kicks ahead, gathers and finds Argentinian Bogoda with a flick pass, who sprints 60 metres for that consolation try. Referee Williams checks for a knockon from Harmon and replays show he did, so no try.

End of game. Record win for the Blues against the Highlanders, nice start to the season.

38th minute - TRY to Ioane

Telea fields a kick in his own half and beats several tacklers, before finding Sotutu, who is dragged down metres from the tryline. Ioane looms inside him and receives the pass to score. Barrett slots the conversion from wide out, BLU 60-20

37th minute - Blues win a lineout, but Sotutu's loose pass gives the ball back to the Highlanders.

35th minute - Highlanders stringing together passes in the Blues half, looking for a consolation try, but the Blues win a clearing penalty.

32nd minute - Fakatava is replaced by debutant Parapara at halfback for the Highlanders.

TRY to Telea

Parapara feeds a scrum inside the Blues half, but a speculator pass from Hunt finds Telea in the Highlanders backline and he sprints away for his second try. Barrett converts, BLU 53-20

29th minute - TRY to Papali'i

Blues on attack on the Highlanders 22 and quick hands create space for the captain down the left touchline. He evades Fakatava to score, but Barrett's sideline conversion drifts across the posts, BLU 46-21

28th minute - Blues back on attack beside the posts and building phases. Barrett kicks across the field for Lam, but the kick overshoots everyone into touch.

James Tucker replaced Tuipulotu.

27th minute - Tuipulotu drives towards the tryline and wins a penalty advantage, but the ball shifts left, where Lam drops the ball over the tryline. Back for the penalty.

26th minute - From the scrum, Hunt clears, but only to the Highlanders 22. Funaki and Lam replace Christie and Clarke.

Choat wins the lineout and Blues maul into the 22.

25th minute - Blues win the lineout, but their attack breaks down metres out, when a pass is spilt.

23rd minute - Blues win another penalty inside the Highlanders half. Barrett kicks into the 22. Englishman Freddie Burns replaces Gilbert for the Highlanders.

22nd minute - Hunt finds touch near the Blues 22, but the lineout is tapped wildly back. Highlanders retreat to halfway, where Tucker drops the ball.

21st minute - Blues win a penalty and Barrett kicks to the Highlanders 22. Blues can't control the lineout and Highlanders break towards halfway, winning a penalty.

20th minute - RTS is subbed off, replaced by Heem. Highlanders win a lineout and try to mount an attack on the BLues 10.

19th minute - Highlanders release the ball right, RTS makes a big tackle in front of the posts and the attack breaks down. RTS grabs the loose ball and Christie clears to the 10.

18th minute - Tucker wins the lineout and the Highlanders maul makes slow progress.

17th minute - Hunt chips over the defence and Harmon gathers, but has no support. Fakatava throws the ball into the ref and we'll come back for the penalty, Hunt kicks to the corner.

16th minute - Highlanders have the ball in Blues half, trying to mount an attack. They have penalty advantage.

14th minute - TRY to Renata

Blues put together several phases on the tryline and win a penalty advantage, but the prop runs through a big space near the breakdown to score. Barrett converts, BLU 41-20

13th minute - Blues win an attacking lineout, but can't make ground with their maul. They eventually spread it right, but the Highlanders defence is strong on their line.

12th minute - Highlanders have the ball just over halfway, but Fakatava loses the ball and Christie crosses halfway. Barrett kicks ahead, but Hunt has it covered.

Blues win a penalty on the 22 and Withy looks worse for wear.

10th minute - Highlanders field a high Christie kick on halfway and Fakatava also kicks deep, where Barrett is taken on his own 22. Christie clears to halfway and RTS returns to the game.

Eighth minute - Barrett slots the penalty, BLU 34-20

Seventh minute - Sotutu makes metres, but Ioane can't hold the pass and Blues come back for a penalty outside the 22. Barrett will kick for goal.

Sixth minute - The Blues replace their entire front row. Highlanders win the lineout, but the Blues grab a loose ball and Telea surges upfield.

Fifth minute - Perofeta field a high kick on halfway and puts Telea on a run. Blues go on attack, but Highlanders win a penalty near halfway.

Third minute - From the lineout, Eklund charges towards the line, but Harmon turns the ball over and wins a clearing penalty. Hunt clears towards the 10.

Second minute - Blues mount an attack outside the 22 and Barrett kicks towards the tryline. Hunt clears towards the 10.

First minute - Blues start the second half down a player, with RTS still in the bin. Perofeta kicks off and Harmon spills the ball, so Blues have an early attacking scrum near the 22.


40th minute - Barrett kicks to the corner and Sotutu wins the lineout. Blues aren't making any ground, so Eklund releases.

Highlanders snaffle a loose ball and kick long for a 50-22. They'll have an attacking lineouot after the siren.

Parkinson wins the lineout, but BLues hold up the maul. Highlanders have penalty advantage, Hunt kicks high to the corner, but Perofeta is safe and we come back for the penalty for collapsing the maul.

Highlanders call for a scrum against the shorthanded Blues pack. Highlanders win a scrum penalty advantage and Fakatava is tackled short of the line.

De Groot knocks on and Highlanders come back for another scrum. From the scrum, Umaga-Jensen powers towards the posts and Highlanders have another penalty advantage.

Gilbert is tackled short of the corner and Ainsley is held up over the line. Referee Williams comes back for the penalty and shows Tuivasa-Sheck yellow.

As RTS leaves, Sufoa comes back onto the field - we're into the sixth minute of added time in the first half.

TRY to Timu

Highlanders put a shove on and Fakatava finds Timu running an angle between two defenders, where RTS would have been. Blues may have been lucky though, because Highlanders had another penalty advantage and maybe another yellow card.

Gilbert converts, BLU 31-20

38th minute - From the kickoff, Fakatava clears, Withy reclaims the kick and Highlanders break into Blues territory, but lose the ball. They're penalised near halfway, so Blues will go back on attack.

36th minute - TRY to Hunt

De Groot goes close by the posts, but when the ball is released, Hunt hits it at speed and won't be stopped. Gilbert converts, BLU 31-13

35th minute - Marshall throws long over the lineout and Papalii claims it for the Blues. Withy steals the ball at the breakdown and Highlanders are back on attack.

34th minute - Dixon claims the lineout again and Highlanders have another penalty advantage. Harmon is dragged down short of the tryline.

Suafoa bursts out of the defensive line to disrupt the attack and is shown a yellow card for cynical offside.

33rd minute - Hunt kicks to the corner again for another lineout drive.

32nd minute - Highlanders steal a lineout throw and attack from outside the 22. Gilbert kicks through and they come back for the penalty advantage.

31st minute - Dixon wins the attacking lineout and Highlanders maul towards the tryline. Fakatava breaks left, where Christie tackles him, but he reaches out to score.

Disallowed for a double movement.

30th minute - Tu'ungafasi is penalised at a scrum in his own half and Hunt kicks to the corner.

29th minute - Akira Ioane leaves the field injured, replaced by Choat.

27th minute - TRY to R Ioane

Akira Ioane steals a loose pass from Marshall in the Blues 22 and the ball quickly shifts right, where Telea makes valuable ground and puts Rieko Ioane in space for a straight run to the line.

Barrett converts, BLU 31-6

24th minute - TRY to Clarke

Highlanders cross halfway, but concede a penalty for not releasing at the breakdown. Christie takes a quick tap, Barrett kicks towards the goal-line, and Clarke is chasing fast to gather and score.

Barrett converts from near the left touchline, BLU 24-6

21st minute - TRY to Barrett

Hunt spots a halfbreak, but throws a loose pass back that's picked up by Laulala, who finds Christie. The Blues break up field and Christie finds Telea, who is brought down short of the line and pops up the pass for Barrett to score. 

Barrett converts, BLU 17-6

20th minute - Highlanders turn the ball over and Fakatava kicks long. It sits up in the in-goal area, so goal-line dropout for the BLues.

19th minute - Fakatava's kick doesn't find touch and Blues play on, with Christie putting a kick to the corner that bounces into touch.

18th minute - From the kickoff, Hunt tries to clear his 22, but Tuipulotu partially charges it down. The bounce eludes the Blues and Fakatava eventually clears.

17th minute - Gilbert slots the penalty from in front, BLU 10-6

16th minute - Highlanders win a lineout in Blues half and Dixon surges to the 22. Timu makes ground and Highlanders have penalty advantage.

Gilbert points to the posts...

13th minute - TRY to Telea

Sotutu powers towards the 22 and finds Christie with an offload. Tu'ungafasi goes to ground, but pops up the final pass to Telea, who powers over in the corner in Fakatava's tackle.

Barrett converts from near touch, BLU 10-3

12th minute - Papali'i wins the lineout and Blues go on attack, but Fakatava hacks a loose pass downfield. Blues counterattack.

11th minute - Blues win a penalty in their own half for offside and Barrett kicks for touch for a lineout near the Highlanders 10.

10th minute - Highlanders are quickly through on the Blues backline near halfway and the Blues lose ground.

Ninth minute - From the kickoff, Hunt clears from his 22 and finds touch near halfway.

Eighth minute - Gilbert duly slots the penalty from very close, 3-3

Seventh minute - Highlanders hot on attack, building phases and winning penalty advantage. Gilbert can throw this over...

Sixth minute - Tuipulotu rises to claim the kickoff, but drops the ball into his lifter in front and Highlanders have an attacking scrum inside the 22.

Fifth minute - Barrett slots the penalty for the early lead, BLU 3-0

Fourth minute - From the scrum, Tuivasa-Sheck surges over halfway and Blues win a penalty at the breakdown. Highlanders are marched for some lip and Barrett will take a shot at goal from just inside the 10.

Third minute - Ainsley bends Tu'ungafasi up out of the scrum and we'll have a reset. Mikaele-Tu'u is replaced by Withy.

Second minute - Surging run from Frizell and Hunt almost snipes through, but Sotutu snaffles the ball and runs out of his 22. Play is stopped for Mikaele-Tu'u, who went down early and hasn't got up.

Mikaele-Tu'u is back up and Blues will have a scrum feed near halfway.

First minute - Mitch Hunt kicks off for the Highlanders and Tuipulotu claims it in the air for the Blues. Barrett clears and Highlanders go on attack.

7:03pm - Late change for the Highlanders sees Connor Garden-Bachop replace Jona Nareki on the wing, with Argentinian Martin Bagado coming onto the bench.

Blues prop Nepo Laulala celebrates his 100th Super Rugby game, after previous stints with the Crusaders and Chiefs.


Kia ora, good evening and welcome to Newshub's live coverage of the Super Rugby Pacific clash between the Highlanders and Blues at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium.

After the season-opening boilover that saw the Chiefs trounce the champion Crusaders at Christchurch, all predictions have gone out the window, as the southerners try to topple last year's beaten finalists at home.

These two rivals met in the 2022 quarter-finals, with the Blues prevailing 35-6, after winning their regular-season encounter 32-20.

Biggest talking point is recovery of Highlanders halfback Folau Fakatava, who was believed sidelined for the season with a knee injury, but will line up as No.9 in the absence of All Blacks veteran Aaron Smith.

The Blues have 13 All Blacks in their starting XV - the exceptions are hooker Kurt Eklund and lock Cameron Suafoa - including their entire backline.

TAB Odds: Blues $1.33, Highlanders $3.40, draw $21

Highlanders: 1-Ethan de Groot, 2-Rhys Marshall, 3-Jermaine Ainsley, 4-Pari Pari Parkinson, 5-Josh Dickson, 6-Shannon Frizell, 7-Billy Harmon (capt), 8-Marino Mikaele Tu'u, 9-Folau Fakatava, 10-Mitch Hunt, 11-Jona Nareki, 12-Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 13-Josh Timu, 14-Jonah Lowe, 15-Sam Gilbert

Reserves: 16-Andrew Makalio, 17-Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18-Saula Mau, 19-Will Tucker, 20-Sean Withy, 21-Kemara-Hauiti Parapara, 22-Freddie Burns, 23-Connor Garden-Bachop

Blues: 1-Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2-Kurt Eklund, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Patrick Tuipulotu, 5-Cameron Suafoa, 6-Akira Ioane, 7-Dalton Papali'i (capt), 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 9-Finlay Christie, 10-Beauden Barrett, 11-Caleb Clarke, 12-Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-Mark Telea, 15-Stephen Perofeta

Reserves: 16-Ricky Riccitelli, 17-Joshua Fusitu'a, 18-Marcel Renata, 19-James Tucker, 20-Adrian Choat, 21-Taufa Funaki, 22-Bryce Heem, 23-AJ Lam

All Black de Groot's off-season sacrifice pays off as Super Rugby looms

Ollie Ritchie

After finishing 2022 as part of the All Blacks' first-choice front row, Ethan de Groot is desperate to stay there and avoid a repeat of a slow start to Super Rugby, when the Highlanders kick off their season on Saturday.

To help with that, de Groot has bypassed the All Blacks rest protocols over summer, instead returning to pre-season training in early December - two months before he was required to.

"It was hard," he told Newshub. "I've never had so much time off and last year, I got told to stay away and have a break.

"I fell behind from round one last year."

That slow start proved costly and de Groot was left out of the All Blacks squad for the series defeat to Ireland, but his omission proved a blessing in disguise. 

De Groot's comeback was an imposing one and the 24-year-old is now firmly the first-choice loosehead prop.

Ethan de Groot in action for Highlanders
Ethan de Groot in action for Highlanders. Photo credit: Photosport

"I feel like I'm in a better spot now and way fitter than what I was last year.

"Last year, I was 135kg and ran a 5m 50s bronco," he continued. "Now, I'm 128kg and my bronco was 5m 14s."

At the heart of de Groot's resurgence were the sweeping changes made to the All Blacks coaching group in July. The front-rower is full of praise for the addition of Jason Ryan, whom he feels has transformed the way he plays.

"He took my game to a different level, around his style of coaching," said de Groot. "He's definitely a coach you really want to work hard for."

De Groot is ready to put in even more hard work this year, starting against the Blues on Saturday.