Live updates: Super Rugby Pacific - Chiefs v Highlanders at Hamilton's FMG Stadium



80min - Renton flattens Stevenson and wins the ball back for the Highlanders. They try the grubber kick but it rolls into touch. Chiefs win their own lineout and boot it out for fulltime!

78th min - Cane looks to have turned it over, but Highlanders do well to keep possession, before putting the kick through and McKenzie forces it for a goal line dropout.


Chiefs put the ball through the hands down the right wing and they have numbers! Decoy runners aplenty, before McKenzie puts Stevenson over his second! Easy as you like.

74min - Chiefs look to counter down the left wing through McKenzie and Nanai-Seturo, they put the kick ahead but Hunt does well to get back and take the mark.

72min - Hunt puts the head down and looks to crash his way over but McKenzie is there to get underneath him and hold him up to force the goal line dropout.

70min - Highlanders looking to charge their way over through their forwards, but Retallick gets over the top and wins it back. McKenzie tries to clear but Smith charges it down for a 5m scrum.

68min - Highlanders win their own lineout and look to drive, they're just metres out from the tryline. Nankivell is penalised for being offside and the Highlanders will reset.

66min - Bogada spots space behind and puts a clever kick through for himself to chase, but McKenzie reads it well, taking in an awkward bounce before going into touch.

64min - McKenzie sets off on a run and is just dragged down, but Ioane finds some space and puts the kick ahead, and debutant Te Hiwi does well to clean up and save the day.


Highlanders win the advantage from the scrum shove, Smith gives it to Dawai and he bumps off Nankivell and charges over underneath the sticks to score his team's first try!

60min - Dawai charges at McKenzie from the scrum and he's just a few metres out! Cane tries to slow it down but is penalised, before he's now shown a yellow card!

58min - Poihipi makes his first mistake of the game, dropping the restart cold, which gives the under-handed Highlanders a scrum about 10 metres out from the tryline.


Weber throws the dummy and he's away! He looks to get on the outside of Hunt but he brings him down just short. Highlanders struggling for numbers and Narawa puts Finau over for the try!


Chiefs put the ball through the hands out wide, before Poihipi finds a surging Stevenson with a beautiful no-look pop up pass, and the fullback puts the foot down to race in for the try!

52min - A Taukei'aho charge carries the Chiefs into the Highlanders 22m, before Frizell is penalised and then yellow carded for not rolling away! Highlanders down to 14.

50min - Renton is penalised for playing the man off the ball. Penalities starting to mount against the visitors now. Chiefs win the lineout just inside the Highlanders half.

48min - Poihipi does well to control a dropping ball from the restart as the rain begins to bucket down. Weber clears and finds touch short of the Chiefs' 10m.

46min - McKenzie tries a chip kick through. He won't win the race but the Highlanders are penalised for obstruction. McKenzie extends the lead with the penalty goal.

44min - Highlanders win their own lineout and look to maul. Smith puts a good box-kick up and Bogada almost does enough to pull it in but knocks on in contact.

42min - McKenzie gets us back underway and Dickson knocks on the kickoff for a Chiefs scrum on the Highlanders 10m. Not the start the visitors would've wanted.


40+2min - Chiefs' front-row put the shove on and win the penalty on halfway. McKenzie finds touch inside the Highlanders 22m. Chiefs just 10 metres out but McKenzie knocks on.

40min - Highlanders finding good metres with their maul, but Finau does well to disrupt Smith at the back as he looked to clear and force the knockon from the halfback. 

38min - Chiefs front-row are deemed to have collapsed and the referee awards the Highlanders the penalty. Hunt finds touch inside the Chiefs half. Can they hit back right before halftime?

36min - Parkinson has been forced from the field with a head injury and has been replaced by Dutchman Fabian Holland. McKenzie lines up the penalty goal but misses wide right.

34min - Jacobson wins the lineout for the Chiefs, and the Highlanders are penalised again at the breakdown. McKenzie tries the chip kick but we'll come back for the penalty.

32min -  Highlanders do well to counter-ruck and win the turnover with the Chiefs inside their 22m, before Burns kicks and finds touch inside the home team's half.

30min - McKenzie runs back to clean up the kick, and does well to evade the charging Burns to carry the Chiefs over halfway and lay platform for an attack.

28min - Bogada is now pinged for being offside, and McKenzie will go for touch this time instead. Some heavy collisions so far in this game. McKenzie misses touch! And Hunt clears.    

26min - The Highlanders are penalised again, and McKenzie will line up a long shot at goal. This one much harder the first, but he nails it to extend the Chiefs' lead.

24min - Nanai-Seturo bumps off Umaga-Jensen, before putting the kick through for himself but Hunt does well to contain the ball with the Chiefs winger pressuring him.

22min - Bogada reads the bouncing ball well to take it in under heavy contact, but Cane is there to get over the next tackle and win the breakdown penalty.

20min - Renton comes up with a Chiefs lineout and he's away! He runs 40 odd metres before McKenzie catchs him, and the Highlanders win the ruck penalty.

18min - Another Highlanders overthrow falls to the Chiefs and this time they hang on. Nankivell spots nobody home at the back, kicks through but it rolls into touch with Chiefs chasers closing.

16min - Chiefs just 10 metres out from the tryline, but Taukei'aho is penalised for having another attempt after he was tackled and not releasing the ball.

14min - Hunt is nailed by Narawa underneath the high kick, before Burns kicks long for Stevenson to return and he does with interest, but McKenzie knocks on the grubber through.

12min - Highlanders can't bring in their own lineout, but the overthrow is knocked on by Ross as he looked up at the incoming defence.

10min - Chiefs penalised for obstructing the Highlanders' kick-chase, and Burns will step up to have a shot at goal. But he can't convert, as he pushes it wide left.


Chiefs switch direction to the right to McKenzie, he draws in his opposite, before putting Nanai-Seturo through a hole, he steps out of one tackle and strolls in for an easy try. 

6min - Jacobson makes a strong run from the back of the Chiefs' scrum, before McKenzie kicks long. Burns fools one Chiefs chaser, before kicking it out near halfway.

4min - Solid scrum from both teams, as Burns puts a thumping kick downfield and forces the error from Stevenson for a Highlanders lineout.

2min - Highlanders off to the worst of starts, as Hunt overcooks the kickoff, giving the Chiefs good field position on halfway with a scrum put-in.

7pm - Thank you for joining us for this Super Rugby Pacific clash! Can the Highlanders shock the table-topping Chiefs? We're about to find out.


Kia ora, good evening, and welcome to Newshub's live coverage of the Super Rugby Pacific clash between the Chiefs and Highlanders at Hamilton's FMG Stadium.

The table-topping Chiefs have rung the changes for their first home match of the season, as they welcome the winless visitors to Waikato.

Coach Clayton McMillan has swapped out both props from last week's victory over Moana Pasifika, with Ireland international John Ryan to make his first start of the year.

Naitoa Ah-Kuoi and Emoni Narawa have replaced Pita Gus Sowakula and Liam Coombes-Fabling, with Josh Ioane coming in for Bryn Gatland on the bench.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders have been boosted by the return of three All Blacks, with Aaron Smith, Ethan de Groot, and Shannon Frizell all named in the run-on side.

Mitch Hunt has regained the No.10 jersey, with England's Freddie Buns shifting to fullback, as the southerners chase their first win of the season.

Join us at 7:05pm for kickoff.

TAB odds: Chiefs $1.13, Highlanders $5.50, draw $26

Chiefs: 1-Aidan Ross, 2-Samisoni Taukei'aho, 3-John Ryan, 4-Brodie Retallick, 5-Tupou Vaa'i, 6-Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 7-Sam Cane (cc), 8-Luke Jacobson, 9-Brad Weber (cc), 10-Damian McKenzie, 11-Etene Nanai-Seturo, 12-Rameka Poihipi, 13-Alex Nankivell, 14-Emoni Narawa, 15-Shaun Stevenson

Reserves: 16-Bradley Slater, 17-Ollie Norris, 18-George Dyer, 19-Samipeni Finau, 20-Pita Gus Sowakula, 21-Cortez Ratima, 22-Josh Ioane, 23-Daniel Roa 

Highlanders: 1-Ethan de Groot, 2-Rhys Marshall, 3-Jermaine Ainsley, 4-Pari Pari Parkinson, 5-Josh Dickson, 6-Shannon Frizell, 7-James Lentjes (c), 8-Hugh Renton, 9-Aaron Smith, 10-Mitch Hunt, 11-Mosese Dawai, 12-Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 13-Fetuli Paea, 14-Martin Bogado, 15-Freddie Burns

Reserves: 16-Leni Apisai, 17-Ayden Johnstone, 18-Saula Mau ,19-Fabian Holland, 20-Sean Withy, 21-Kemara Hautiti-Parapara, 22-Jakob Te Hiwi, 23-Connor Garden-Bachop

Highlanders hope Aaron Smith's return can snap shocking Super Rugby start
by Alex Powell

After a nightmare start to Super Rugby Pacific, the Highlanders are banking on the return of one of their all-time greats to arrest their slide.

In their first two games of 2023, the Highlanders have conceded 60 points to the Blues and 50 points to the Crusaders, results that have seen them plummet to the bottom of the table.

Things won't get any easier for the Highlanders either, with a trip to Hamilton to face the table-topping Chiefs, who've won both of their first two matches with bonus points.

Reinforcements are incoming, though. All Blacks duo Ethan de Groot and Shannon Frizell are both back in contention after missing the defeat to the Crusaders.

But the biggest boost comes in the form of veteran halfback Aaron Smith, who could make his first appearance of the season after an extended pre-season break.

For assistant coach Dave Dillon, Smith's return to playing comes after the 34-year-old's contributions already this season, helping mentor the side through their opening defeats.

"They've been putting the work in behind the scenes," said Dillon. "Nuggy [Smith] hasn't been playing, but he has been around the group and being pretty influential.

"We know [from] a player of that experience, it's invaluable.

"He's the most capped, or just about the most capped, Highlander. With his All Black duties and that, he's going to bring something special.

Aaron Smith.
Aaron Smith. Photo credit: Getty Images

"As I say, he's been around the group, been really good around the group - particularly with the young guys.

"If he's running out there on Friday, I'll be looking forward to his influence."

Dillon also says the side are feeling the impacts of such heavy losses early on in the season.

Few teams would be able to concede more than 50 points in their first two matches and still consider themselves contenders.

But the Highlanders know they have to put their recent horrors behind them, if they're to avoid a 0-3 start against the Chiefs on Friday night.

"We don't go out to put results like that out on the park. This is a proud region with a proud history.

"We're hurting, but you've got to learn from it, got to move forward. 

"The week comes around pretty quick. We're flying on the Saturday, we play on the Friday up in Hamilton against another quality side in the Chiefs."