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Joseph rues Highlanders missed opportunities

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph says they should have made more of their chances

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Article Published: Sunday 30 March 2014|

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph says that he was pleased with his players fighting spirit and that they played for 80 minutes in their 30-12 loss to the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday.

Joseph was pleased that there were as many Highlanders players in defence as there were Blues players on attack at the end of the match and he says you don't see that if the players don't care.

The Highlanders coach added that he is confident that his team will be able to bounce back against the Rebels in Dunedin next weekend.

Joseph was however disappointed that they did not take all of their early opportunities in the first half and he wants this to change next week.

"Those opportunities against a good side like the Blues you have got to take and in the second half we came under a lot of pressure trying to chase the game and the Blues played well in that second 40.

"I'm disappointed because the guys did play some good rugby at times but we were out-played in that second 40, " he told Sportal.

Joseph said that the Blues were clinical in the second half of the match and were well controlled by Simon Hickey at 10 and he says the more the Highlanders tried to to things the more things appeared to go in the Blues favour.

"We create enough opportunities to score points against opponents, quality opposition, and I think our average is about 27 or 28 points per match suggesting we can score tries, but you have to be clinical and those opportunities that you create you have actually got to take them, " he said.

"You have to take your hat off the Blues, in a lot of respects they probably wanted it more. "

Highlanders fullback and co-captain Ben Smith backed his coach and said that Super Rugby is about taking opportunities and that you have to make the most of what comes along.

Smith added that he was not surprised at how well Bryn Hall performed even though he was a late replacement for Piri Weepu

"We knew Bryn Hall was a good halfback. He played well didn't he? " said Smith.

Joseph explained that he replaced All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith with Fumiaki Tanaka as he wanted to do something that could spark something new on attack to get them over the advantage line.

"I guess we were hoping that his speed and agility around the edges would spark something for us but to rely on Aaron Smith or Ben Smith to the 80th minute to claw back 20-odd points is a bit tough on those guys, " he said.

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