The Highlanders have won their last three consecutive Super Rugby games against the Queensland Reds, as many as they had won in their 10 meetings prior (L7); however, they have never won more than three consecutive Super Rugby games against them.
The Queensland Reds, however, are the reigning Super Rugby AU champions, beating the Brumbies in last weekend’s grand final in Brisbane.
- Seven of the Highlanders’ last eight Super Rugby games against Australian opposition have been decided by a margin of fewer than 10 points on the day; the Highlanders have picked up five wins in that term (L3).
- The Landers have won 10 of their last 11 Super Rugby matches against the Reds in Dunedin.
- The Queensland Reds have won only one of their last 17 Super Rugby games against New Zealand opposition (L16) – a 29-28 win over the Blues in Round 17, 2019.
- Only nine of the Queensland Reds’ missed tackles in Super Rugby in 2021 have directly resulted in a try being scored, the fewest of any team and 13 fewer than the Highlanders (22).
- Shannon Frizell (Highlanders) made 96 carries and 67 tackles throughout the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign; he was the only player to log 65+ in both categories.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
1.00: PEEEEP! We are underway in the first-ever Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match in Dunedin, New Zealand.
0.34: TRY! A mistake by the Reds from the kick-off ends with Scott Gregory opening the scoring following some slick hands by Jona Nareki and Sam Gilbert. Kalani Thomas’ pass hit the loitering Angus Blyth, was is picked up by the hosts, who sent the ball wide to Gregory. 5-0
2.00: CONVERSION! Mitch Hunt converts. 7-0
4.00: The Reds are in a good attacking position inside the Highlanders’ 22. They are going through the phases using pick-and-drives.
6.00: TRY! Kalani Thomas redeems himself after his earlier costly mistake. The Reds laid siege to the Highlanders’ line before the scrumhalf sniped around the ruck, wriggled through Aaron Smith’s tackle, and placed the ball on the chalk, under the posts. 7-5
7.00: CONVERSION! James O’Connor levels the scores. 7-7
9.00: Already too many reset scrums tonight.
10.00: Queensland wins a free-kick from the scrum, go a few phases before winning a penalty at the breakdown. Bryce Hegarty kicks to the 22.
13.00: The Reds only trained once this week after their bruising Super Rugby AU Final win over the Brumbies, and they look a little rusty.
14.00: Hamish Stewart, for the second time, squanders a chance to pass and concedes a penalty turnover at the ruck.
17.00: The Landers kick a penalty to the corner. They use a decoy maul before going backward from some poor passing.
18.00: The hosts get a 5m scrum after Hegarty takes the ball over his in-goal under pressure from Sio Tomkinson. This is another good opportunity for the home team.
20.00: O’Connor is caught offside at the ruck, Hunt kicks to the corner. Expect a driving maul this time, no special moves.
22.00: Superb work by the Reds, they stop the maul before Liam Wright gets to the ball carrier and holds him up.
24.00: Jona Nareki eludes several defenders while dancing down the touchline, but a couple of phases later, Hunt is tackled into touch. Nareki is a superstar in the making.
25.00: A poor clearance by the Reds gives the Highlanders another good attacking chance on the visitor’s 22.
27.00: Referee Ben O’Keeffe calls time out on the clock because of all the reset scrums. It’s time for the rules to change at the set-piece because it is a mess.
28.00: TRY! The pressure finally tolls on the Reds. The Highlanders pound the line before Ash Dixon crashes over. The Reds were really under the pump, and they could not keep out the home team. 12-7
29.00: CONVERSION! Hunt adds the extras. 14-7
32.00: The Reds are under a lot of pressure, they cannot seem to get out of their 22, when they do clear, the ball is not out.
33.00: Hegarty carries another kick over his goal-line for a Highlanders’ 5m scrum.
34.00: TRY! The Reds run out of numbers. Nareki powers through a couple of defenders but is tackled under the poles. The ball is recycled quickly by Smith and spread wide to Tomkinson, who scores in the corner. 19-7
35.00: CONVERSION! Hunt slots the wide kick. 21-7
37.00: The Reds need some points before the interval to keep themselves in the contest, but mistakes inside their half are proving costly.
39.00: Frustrations are starting to boil over, especially the Reds, who gang up on Billy Harmon in a bit of push and shove.
42.00: The Reds are stuck inside their 22, but they get away with one because Gregory knocks on over the try line, and the ball is cleared to touch.
The halftime score was Highlanders 21 Queensland Reds 7
41.00: PEEEEP! We are back underway in New Zealand.
43.00: The Reds win possession from the kick-off, but after several attacks near the Landers’ line, the ball is turned over at the ruck.
45.00: Pari Pari Parkinson fell hard after a lineout, he is being checked by the medics.
46.00: TRY! Suliasi Vunivalu out jumps Sam Gilbert and manages to dot the ball down over the line; it was a superb crossfield kick by Hegarty. 21-12
47.00: MISS! The conversion is wide by Hegarty. 21-12
50.00: TRY! Ash Dixon gets another, this time from a well-worked driving maul from five metres out. 26-12
51.00: MISS! Hunt’s conversion hits the lefthand post and bounces out. 26-12
55.00: The Landers are finding lots of space in the wide channels but some poor handling is keeping them from ending this game as a contest.
59.00: The Reds cannot string any phases together, they need to because the Kiwis look like they have more tries in them.
61.00: Bryn Evans steals a Reds lineout, but the visitors reclaim possession and attack from midfield.
64.00: Harmon intercepts a loose Moses Sorovi pass, but he is dragged down inside the Reds’ 22 by the chasing halfback. Smith was first to the ruck, but Harmon did not release in time, conceding a penalty.
65.00: NO TRY! Filipo Daugunu dots down in the corner after some superb interplay between backs and forwards, but the try is chalked off for a forward pass by Hegarty in the build-up. 26-12
71.00: TRY! Liam Coltman gets the ball on the line after a rolling maul from close range. Game over! 31-12
72.00: CONVERSION! Hunt slots the wide kick. 33-12
73.00: Reds are reeling!
74.00: TRY! Ngatugnane Punivai with an expert finish in the corner to seal the bonus-point victory. 38-12
75.00: CONVERSION! Hunt is on fire. 40-12
78.00: The game is winding down, but the Reds look for a late score.
80.00: TRY! Suliasi Vunivalu gets a brace after beating Nareki to Hegarty’s pin-point crossfield kick. 40-17
81.00: CONVERSION! Hegarty makes no mistake. 40-19
The final score is Highlanders 40 (21) Reds 19 (7)
Tries – Gregory, Dixon (2), Tomkinson, Coltman, Punivai
Con – Hunt (5)
Tries – Thomas, Vunivalu (2)
Con – O’Connor, Hegarty
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 2: Angus Maybe
TMO: Mike Fraser
15 Sam Gilbert, 14 Patelesio Tomkinson, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (cc), 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Hugh Renton, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (cc), 1 Ayden Johnstone
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan De Groot, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 James Lentjes, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Tim O’Malley, 23 Ngatugnane Punivai
15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Jock Campbell, 10 James O’Connor (cc), 9 Kalani Thomas, 8 Seru Uru, 7 Liam Wright (cc), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Angus Blyth, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Feao Fotuaika, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Dane Zander
Replacements: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Isaac Henry, 23 Suliasi Vunivalu