The Highlanders have played the Blues 33 times in Super Rugby since 1996, the Highlanders have won 16 matches, but lost 17 times.
The Highlanders’ 16 wins give them a record of winning 46% of their matches against the Blues regardless of venue.
- The Blues won two of their last three Super Rugby games against the Highlanders (L1), including a 27-24 win when they last met in Round 3 of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
- The Auckland side will be hunting for back-to-back wins against the Otago franchise for the first time since 2011.
- The Highlanders have won their last seven home games on the bounce against the Blues in Super Rugby; although, those victories have come by an average margin of just seven points per game.
- The Blues have won only three of their last 35 away games against fellow New Zealand opponents in Super Rugby (L32), losing their previous two on the bounce.
- The Highlanders have combined for 20+ defenders beaten in each of their last three Super Rugby games, after having done so only once in their eight games prior.
- Otago, however, has only managed to reach 20+ defenders beaten in only one of their last 12 games against the Blues.
- Blues’ duo Akira Ioane and Ofa Tu’ungafasi have each made 56 tackles from 58 attempts in Super Rugby Aotearoa for a success rate of 97% -higher than any other player to have attempted at least 40 tackles.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
In the meantime, why not have a look at the match preview.
1.00: PEEEEP! Beauden Barrett gets us underway at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, for this Round Eight Super Rugby Aotearoa clash between the Highlanders and Blues.
2.00: There has been a late change to the Blues line-up. Blake Gibson is out. Tony Lamborne moves from the bench to the flank and Aaron Carroll comes onto the bench to wear the No 20 jersey. The Highlanders concede a penalty after Barrett’s bomb.
3.00: NO TRY! The Blues power over the line from a well-worked driving maul by the visitors’ forwards; however, Aaron Smith’s boot gets underneath the ball, so the call is “held-up”.
5.00: The visitors have two 5-metre attacking scrums after being kept out at the first attempt.
7.00: TRY! A big scrum by the Blues sees Akira Ioane pick up the ball from the base of the scrum, break blind and crash through the isolated Scott Gregory. 0-5
8.00: MISS! The conversion is no good. 0-5
10.00: TRY! Caleb Clarke gathers the cross-kick, bounces Josh Ioane and pops on his inside to the supporting Rieko Ioane, who put Finlay Christie away to score. 0-10
12.00: CONVERSION! Barrett adds the extras. 0-12
13.00: The Landers win a penalty. Josh Ioane calls for the tee.
15.00: PENALTY! The hosts are on the board. 3-12
17.00: The Highlanders have a lineout on their 10m; they win a penalty for offsides again. This time, the hosts kick to the 22, instead of taking the points.
19.00: Discipline is a problem for Leon MacDonald’s charges, who have shipped four in a row. Mitch Hunt kicks to the corner.
20.00: TRY! Ash Dixon crashes over the line after a solid driving maul. The Blues lost their shape, which allowed the highlanders’ forwards to shift the maul and power over. 8-12
21.00: CONVERSION! Ioane’s kick is good. 10-12
23.00: Shannon Frizell wins an important penalty at the breakdown to relieve the pressure inside their 22.
25.00: It’s all Highlanders at the moment. They go 11 phases inside the Blues’ 22 before Hunt hits the breakdown from the side. Dixon should have passed in the build-up, and Otago would be leading.
28.00: NO TRY! The Highlanders have the Blues on the back foot, but Dalton Papalii intercepts a loose pass by Jeff Thwaites and races 75 metres to score under the posts. However, Karl Tu’inukuafe is adjudged to have interfered with Aaron Smith in the build-up, and the TMO chalks off the try. 10-12
30.00: PENALTY! Ioane puts the hosts ahead. Boy, that is lucky. 13-12
31.00: TRY! Clarke combines with Christie after sucking in two defenders following a turnover inside the Blues’ half. Christie draws a defender and sends TJ Faiane away for their third try. 13-17
33.00: MISS! Barrett’s radar is off today. 13-17
35.00: PENALTY! Ioane lands his third goal of the night. 16-17
37.00: The Blues win a penalty and opt for a scrum.
40.00: TRY! Ofa Tu’ungafasi barges through several defenders to increase the Blues’ lead on the stroke of halftime. 16-22
41.00: CONVERSION! Barrett adds the extras. 16-24
The halftime score was Highlanders 16 Blues 24
41.00: PEEEEP! We are back underway in Dunedin. Christie puts his box-kick out on the full; lineout on the Blues’ 22 to the hosts.
42.00: Papalii wins the penalty at the breakdown to relieve the pressure.
43.00: TRY! Christie has a double. The scrumhalf dots down after combining with Clarke on the left-wing. The try came from a turnover before Barrett shaped to kick, but instead, the All Blacks first-five threw a long skip three cut-out pass to Clarke, who then sent Christie away. 16-29
45.00: MISS! Barrett is 2/5 tonight. 16-29
48.00: A couple of reset scrums as the teams grab a breather.
51.00: Ayden Johnstone gives away a short-arm penalty for an early engagement. Tony Brown decides to make some changes to the front row. Blues want another scrum.
53.00: Pari Pari Parkinson is caught offside. Patrick Tuipulotu opts for another scrum because Akire Ioane has had a superb game off the base of the set-piece.
54.00: Sio Tomkinson crunches Faiane, who stays down after the hit, and the ball is lost forward. The Landers get out of jail.
56.00: The Blues get the penalty.
57.00: PENALTY! Barrett can’t miss from in front. 16-32
60.00: The Highlanders need seven here to have any hope of claiming an unlikely win. Mitch hunt kicks to the corner.
62.00: A series of penalties by the hosts lead to another penalty being kicked to the corner.
63.00: Poor from the home team, but good defence by the visitors to hold up the maul.
66.00: Aaron Mauger’s men keep coming; they win another penalty, Smith goes quickly but the ball is lost forward near the line. Time is running out.
69.00: Mauger’s men are all over the visitors but they cannot breach the white wall.
71.00: The Landers have another attacking lineout near the Blues’ goal-line.
73.00: A scuffle breaks out as tensions flare. Mr Fraser has a word to the Blues captain about multiple penalties.
74.00: YELLOW CARD! Sione Mafileo is sent to the bin. 16-24
75.00: Jesse Parete jumps over the ruck NFL running back style, but he is held up. Scrum to the Landers. This is some immense defending by the Blues.
76.00: TRY! Shannon Frizell gets his team’s second. 21-32
77.00: MISS! The kick is no good. 21-32
79.00: Scrum to the Blues.
81.00: The siren sounds, the ball is booted into touch for the visitors’ first win under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium, and first win in Dunedin since 2011.
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The final score is Highlanders 21 (16) Blues 32 (24)
Tries – Dixon, Frizell
Pen – J. Ioane (3)
Con – J. Ioane
Tries – A. Ioane, Christie (2), Faiane, Tu’ungafasi
Pen – B. Barrett
Con – B. Barrett (2)
Cards – Mafileo (Yellow, 74′)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 2: Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Chris Hart
15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Scott Gregory, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Jeff Thwaites, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Jona Nareki
15 Matt Duffie, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Tony Lamborn, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
Replacements: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jacob Pierce, 20 Aaron Carroll, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Otere Black, 23 Harry Plummer