Super Rugby

Highlanders and Bulls share the spoils




The Highlanders and Bulls played out a 24-24 in an entertaining Super Rugby clash under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.

Jaco Visagie crashed over with less than five minutes remaining, and Handré Pollard levelled from in front as the Bulls clawed their way to parity in a game they never once led.

A thrilling finale ended in a stalemate, both teams sinking to their knees knowing their playoff chances were in tatters.

The Highlanders outscored the Bulls four tries to three.

Josh McKay and Waisake Naholo both grabbed a brace apiece for the Aaron Mauger’s men.

Divan Rossouw and Jason Jenkins, who had a try chalked off, crossed for the former three-time champions before Visagie’s late five-pointer.

Both sides harboured slim hopes of making the playoffs, needing to win out and hope other results went their way.

The loser was gone, that was for sure, but they conspired to draw, so are both still in with a shout.

Super Rugby Video Highlights, Round 17: Highlanders versus Bulls, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Pollard’s boot kept Pote Human’s charges in the contest.

He sett up a try with a kick-assist as well as kicking at 100%, while opposite number Josh Ioane’s two missed conversions kept the tourists in the hunt.

Kiwis dominate but cannot shake off South Africans

This might have affected the way the game was played as the two teams slugged it out, making lots of handling mistakes.

There were only five scrums and seven penalties in an entertaining opening stanza.

Both teams were winning turnovers or keeping the ball alive after the opponent’s mistake gifted possession away.

A cagey opening, littered with several Highlanders’ handling mistakes inside the Bulls’ 22, burst into life when McKay opened the scoring in the 12th-minute.

The Highlanders two-thirds possession and territory outscored the Bulls three tries to two, but only took a slender lead into the shed.

The 21-year-old, making his first Super Rugby start, collected Aaron Smith’s box-kick after a misjudgement from Dylan Sage

Sage could not gather Smith’s kick, letting the ball bounce into the grateful arms of the Landers’ fullback.

Ioane added the extras.

Jenkins crossed less than a minute after the restart after Otago stopped a driving maul inside their 22, and a firm run by Schalk Brits.

It was tit-for-tat as both teams traded blows

Brits broke through Tomkinson’s tackle, but he lost the ball forward when he placed it for his scrumhalf.

The try was not awarded,  although, it kick-started a series of attacks and counter-attacks resulting in four tries in 15 minutes, two apiece.

Tomkinson had a game; he was involved in everything.

His accurate kick behind the Bulls’ back-three set-up Naholo’s second try of an injury-plagued season.

The winger gathered the bouncing ball, and under no pressure, dotted down in the corner for his 43rd Super Rugby try.

Ioane’s touchline conversion attempt was wide, but his side had a deserved lead.

Tomkinson showed his defensive prowess when he ripped the ball out of Brits’ hands with the Bulls on the attack inside the Highlanders’ 22.

Aaron Mauger’s side had enjoyed the majority of possession and territory, but the Bulls would finally get on the board.

Pollard, not to be out-done by Smith and Tomkinson’s kick-assists, got in on the act.

The 25-year-old flyhalf’s chip-kick was collected by Divan Rossouw, who sped away from the cover defenders to open the tourist’s account.

Otago kept coming and after a sustained period of possession in attack, involving the entire backline, Rob Thompson’s midfield break set-up McKay’s second.

The centre handed of defenders, shipped Brits’ tackle before offloading to the fullback to score.

Ioane’s conversion extended the home team’s lead back to 12, but Jenkins would not be denied.

Burger Odendaal’s line-break, and Lizo Gqoboka’s pick-and-drive, set-up the lock’s score.

Jenkins was first to the ruck, picked up at the base of the ruck, and in one fluid movement, crashed over the whitewash.

Pollard’s second successful kick reduced the gap back to five at the interval.

Second-half slog

Mistakes crept into the game as the teams tired.

The Bulls spent more than seven minutes to two inside the Highlanders’ 22 in the second stanza as they fought back to level.

The Highlanders struck in the 53rd-minute after Odendaal’s error gifted the home team an attacking scrum, five metres out.

Naholo took Shannon Frizell’s pop-pass and to score in the corner for his second of the evening.

It was a dominant scrum by the hosts, bull-dozing their opponents.

The Bulls’ pack disintegrated as they were walked back towards their try-line.

The ball was recycled and sent wide by Smith to Frizell to set-up Naholo for his second of the game and third of the campaign.

Pollard kicked a penalty, five minutes later to reduce the deficit to seven going into the final quarter.

Visagie crashed over with less than six minutes remaining, and Pollard levelled from under the posts.

The hooker’s try came from a sustained series of scrums and attacks inside the Landers’ 22.

The last moments were end-to-end as the teams won and lost turnovers at an alarming rate.

The final play lasted more than five minutes before a final error brought an end to the contest as the teams shared the spoils.

Both live to fight another day.

Final Score: Highlanders 24 (19) Bulls 24 (14)


Tries – McKay (2), Naholo (2)
Pen –
Con – Ioane (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Rossouw, Jenkins, Visagie
Pen – Pollard
Con – Pollard (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referee 1: Paul Williams
Assistant Referee 2: James Munro
TMO: Ben Skeen



15 Josh McKay, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock (captain), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone.

Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joshua Dickson, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Thomas Umaga-Jensen.


15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Dylan Sage, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Marco van Staden, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.

Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Johan Grobbelaar, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 JT Jackson.

Recommended for you

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.