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Highlanders put woeful Waratahs to the sword

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The Highlanders walloped a depleted Waratahs 49-12 on a chilly evening at Rugby Park, Invercargill.

The Highlanders ran-in six first-half tries to one, routing the Sydney side in a one-sided game in the deep south of New Zealand.

The bonus-point win gives the Otago men hope of a playoff berth, but only if other results go their way.

Alex Newsome and Mack Mason both scored for the Aussies, either side of the interval to take their tally to double figures.


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A 37-point defeat, however, is dire no matter what time of the season, but for the Highlanders, it ends a tough regular season on a high.

Mason scored late in the game.

It gives his team some small semblance of respectability.

However, Rob Thompson dotted down on the hooter to add to the Waratahs‘ woes.

Depleted Waratahs had no chance

They were without most of their Wallabies as coach Daryl Gibson was forced to rest the internationals.

Bernard Foley, Rob Simmons, captain Michael Hooper, Kurtley Beale and Sekope Kepu, as well as the disgraced Israel Folau for well-documented reasons, were all missing.

The game was as good as over inside 25 minutes when the Landers crossed four times to take a 28-nil lead.

Scores by Josh McKay, Tevita Li, Tom Franklin and Waisake Naholo set the Otago men on their way into sixth on the Super Rugby log.

That will change by the end of tomorrow’s fixtures, though.

Naholo’s try was the winger’s 45th in Super Rugby.

The Highlanders spent seven minutes 37 seconds inside the Waratahs’ 22.

The tourists only had possession for only 37 seconds in their opposition’s 22.

Super Rugby Video Highlights, Round 18: Highlanders versus Waratahs, Rugby Park, Invercargill

Aaron Mauger’s men enjoyed 76% possession and 67% territory in the first-half, starving their opponent’s of field position and the ball.

Gibson’s side shipped penalties and tackles as they were put to the sword.

Mason, starting at flyhalf, twice kicked a restart into the in-goal area, allowing the home team good field position after a try.

Newsome dotted down for the Australians.

A penalty-try and Teihorangi Walden’s score on the stroke of halftime, however, killed the game as a contest.

Tom Robertson’s yellow-carded for a driving-maul infringement that resulted in the penalty try, continued his side’s free fall.

The sin-binning did not help the visitors, who conceded seven more points without the prop.

A disjointed and error-strewn second stanza followed

The second half was messy.

Both teams made early changes. But the flow of the game became disrupted with all the substitutions.

Handling errors mounted. The Waratahs were guilty of nine before the hour mark to the Highlanders’ four.

The most impressive piece of the second half was a pitch invader being chased by security as the two teams looked on.

Players struggled to put together any sustained series of attacks as the mercury – and intensity – dropped.

The pitch started to cut up, and the ball was slippery, which continued as the game went on.

Mason scored after a sublime counter-attack with less than eight minutes remaining for the first points of the second half.

It was no consolation for the Waratahs, whose season finished with a whimper.

Thompson’s excellent individual try, cutting inside Will Miller – whose mistake for McKay’s opener, started the rot – finished the contest.

Final Score: Highlanders 49 (42) Waratahs 12 (7)

Scorers

Highlanders
Tries – McKay, Li, Franklin, Naholo, Penalty try, Walden, Thompson
Pen –
Con – Ioane (5), E. Dixon
Drop –
Cards –

Waratahs
Tries – Newsome, Mason
Pen –
Con – Mason
Drop –
Cards – Robertson (Yellow, 36′)

Match Officials
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2: James Munro
TMO: Glenn Newman

Teams

Highlanders

15 Josh McKay, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 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 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Elliot Dixon.

Waratahs

15 Alex Newsome, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Mack Mason, 9 Nick Phipps (captain), 8 Hugh Sinclair, 7 Will Miller, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Tom Staniforth, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Tuala, 17 Rory O’Connor, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Jake Gordon, 23 Tautalatasi Tasi.

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