Super Rugby

Highlanders and Bulls draw in Dunedin




The Highlanders have played the Bulls 19 times in Super Rugby since 1998, the Highlanders have won 13 matches, lost five games and drawn one.

The Highlanders’ 13 give them a record of winning 68% of their matches against the Bulls regardless of venue.

  • Otago has won their last three Super Rugby games on the bounce against the Bulls despite leading at half-time only once in that time.
  • The Bulls have lost only two of their last six games away from home in Super Rugby (W3, D1), including a 22-all draw with the Blues in their previous fixture.
  • The Highlanders are undefeated in their last three games on the bounce at home in Super Rugby (W2, D1) and haven’t lost at home to a team from outside New Zealand since Round 9, 2016 (vs Sharks).
  • The Highlanders and Bulls have each received just two yellow cards thus far in Super Rugby 2019, the joint fewest in the competition along with the Chiefs.
  • Hanro Liebenberg has scored three tries in his last six Super Rugby games – including one in each of his previous two – after having not scored in any of his 26 games prior.

Match detail

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1.00: PEEEEP! We are underway for the start of the penultimate round of the Super Rugby regular season. The Highlanders kick-off.

2.00: Handré Pollard returns for the Bulls after missing the previous two tour games. Luke Whitelock led his team out with his son for his 100th Super Rugby match. Liam Squire is back for his first game of the season.

3.00: Josh McKay carries, in his first Super Rugby start. The Highlanders recycle quickly and are playing at high-speed. They take a quick-tap penalty but lose the ball in contact, five metres from the Bulls’ line.

4.00: Liam Coltman, after Squire’s strong midfield run, also loses the ball in contact, although, 10 metres out. Three lost chances in the opening five minutes. Ayden Johnstone concedes a penalty in the scrum.

5.00: Pollard misses his touch-finder. The hosts counter-attack through Tevita Li, who wriggles past defenders, but Sio Tomkinson knocks on, killing another good opportunity.

8.00: The visitors win another turnover through Schalk Brits after Trevor Nyakane’s tackle. Aaron Smith kicks out on the full near his 10m.

9.00: Hanro Liebenberg combines with Brits, on the wing, but Liebenberg throws a forward pass to Cornal Hendricks, which the assistant referee spots.

11.00: The Bulls look to have the edge in the scrums. This one is reset.

12.00: Rob Thompson breaks the line with a strong run. Aaron Smith takes his time before executing a pin-point box-kick.

13.00: TRY! McKay collects Smith’s box-kick and opens the scoring after Dylan Sage’s misjudgement allowed the ball to bounce away from him. 5-0

14.00: CONVERSION! Josh Ioane adds the extras. 7-0

15.00: NO TRY! The Bulls think they’ve hit back. They go for a driving maul, instead of taking the points. Brits drives through Tomkinson’s tackle, but he is stopped short by Waisake Naholo. The ball is quickly recycled to Jason Jenkins to score. However, the TMO spots a knock on by Brits as he was placing the ball, so the score is chalked off. 7-0

18.00: The Highlanders have all the territory and possession, and are playing with pace and tempo.

19.00: Otago needs to cut out the errors.

22.00: TRY! Naholo latches onto Tomkinson’s accurate cross-kick to dot down in the corner for his second try of an injury-plagued campaign. Every back touched the ball in the build-up to Naholo’s try. 12-0

24.00: MISS! Ioane cannot add the sideline conversion. 12-0

26.00: Tomkinson rips the ball out of Brits’ hand, winning an important turnover inside his 22. Smith clears, but the ball is run back by the Bulls before the Highlanders win a penalty at the next ruck. It was Tyrel Lomax who won the penalty.

27.00: TRY! Divan Rossouw collects Pollard’s chip-kick and races away for the Bulls’ first points of the evening. Easy as you like. 12-5

28.00: CONVERSION! Pollard will not miss from in front. 12-7

32.00: It’s all Highlanders, here.

34.00: TRY! Thompson breaks through a weak tackle and sends McKay away for his second try of the half. 17-7

36.00: CONVERSION! Ben Smith, with daughter to boot, brings out the tee for Ioane. The first-five adds the wide kick to extend his side’s advantage. 19-7

37.00: TRY! Jenkins gets his try. Burger Odendaal broke a tackle and charged into the opposition’s 22. Lizo Gqoboka carried towards the goal-line, and Jenkins picked up and crashed over from close range. 19-12

38.00: CONVERSION! Pollard adds another two. 19-14

41.00: Scrum to the hosts as the hooter sounds.

44.00: It’s a bit scrappy as the Highlanders look to keep the possession alive. Six phases later, the ball is lost into touch.

The halftime score was Highlanders 19 Bulls 14

41.00: PEEEEP! We are back underway in Dunedin.

42.00: Brits has failed his HIA and will not be back on the field. Referee Angus Gardner’s whistle did not work, so he needed it replaced. He did not use it too much, though. There were only seven penalties conceded in the opening stanza and five scrums, despite all the knock-ons.

44.00: The Bulls attack inside the opposition’s 22 after a superb kick by Pollard – and Ioane’s mistake – set-up an attacking lineout, five metres out.

47.00: Two Bulls mistakes kill the attack. McKay collects a deflected ball and runs out of his 22. The Highlanders surge up the field and think they have scored through Naholo, but his intercept is ruled out after Li’s knock-on in the build-up.

51.00: A Bulls’ knock-on kills another attack. Pote Human replaces his front row, not unwarranted because Nyakane and Gqoboka have both started every match, this season.

52.00: NO TRY! The TMO over-rules Mr Gardner’s call of “try”. Li tackles Odendaal backwards and over the Bulls’ goal-line. The ball is dislodged from Odendaal, but Rossouw dotted down before Li. It’s a five-metre scrum under the posts.

53.00: TRY! Naholo takes Shannon Frizell’s pop-pass and is in the corner for his second of the evening. The try came from a powerful scrum. 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. 24-14

55.00: MISS! Ioane cannot add the two. 24-14

56.00: The Bulls have a penalty; Pollard calls for the tee.

58.00: PENALTY! The skipper keeps his side in the hunt. 24-17

60.00: An awful error by Marco van Staden, knocking on in midfield on the halfway line, but Smith’s cut-out pass is intercepted by Hendricks. No advantage, so we come back for the scrum.

62.00: Naholo saves the day; he dots down after taking the ball back into his in-goal area after Ioane’s sloppy hands. Perfect position for the Bulls.

63.00: Free kick to the Bulls. another scrum.

65.00: Van Staden slips before the whitewash and is kept out. He should have scored, but the Bulls have another scrum.

67.00: The Bulls win a scrum-penalty, but Pollard kicks to the corner.

70.00: The Bulls are held-up; they have another scrum which goes down – again. Time is running out for one of these franchises.

72.00: A collapsed scrum leads to another scrum-penalty against the home team. Pollard calls for another scrum. Big moment in the game, now.

75.00: TRY! Jaco Visagie burrows his way over the chalk to keep his team’s dreams alive. 24-22

76.00: CONVERSION! Pollard levels. 24-all

79.00: Highlanders have a scrum after the ref gets in the way of another attack.

81.00: The hooter sounds. Otago attack, but lose the ball forward. The Bulls attack then they lose possession. It’s end-to-end: Who wants it more?

84.00: The final series of plays ends with another knock on. Both sets of players sink to their knees, their playoff hopes in tatters.


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The final score is 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.

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