Super Rugby

Highlanders beat Western Force in Dunedin




The Highlanders have won their last four Super Rugby matches against the Western Force by an average margin of 23 points. The Landers had won only two of all their last eight meetings in the competition (L6).

The Highlanders defeated the Western Force 32-20 in their most recent meeting against them at home in Super Rugby (1 April 2016), snapping a four-match losing run against the Aussies.

  • Tony Brown’s men will be aiming for back-to-back home wins against the Force for the first time in the history of the competition.
  • The Force have lost their last 23 Super Rugby matches against New Zealand opposition, their longest losing run; their last victory against a New Zealand team was in March 2014 (18-15 v Chiefs).
  • The Highlanders have won their last two Super Rugby matches, after winning only one of their last 10 games (L9); the last time they enjoyed a longer winning run was a five-match span from May to June in 2021.
  • The Western Force have won two of their last 18 Super Rugby matches outside Australia (L16); although, their last win in the competition in New Zealand was against the Highlanders (31-29, Rd 5 2014).
  • The Force has made 119 carries per game, the second-most by any team in the competition (Chiefs – 126), and 10 per game more than the Crusaders (109).
  • The Landers have made 25 kicks in play per game, the most by any team in the competition, six per game more than the Force (19).
  • The Western Force has won 95 rucks per game, the most of any team in the competition, and 10 per game more than the Highlanders (85).

Players to watch

  • Marty Banks has a 92% success rate on placekicks (11/12), the best of any player in the campaign (min. 5 attempts).
  • Manasa Mataele has gained 845 metres in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the second-most by any player in the competition (Will Jordan – 935), and 477 more than the Highlanders’ best Mitchell Hunt (368).

Match detail

We are waiting for the kick-off.

In the meantime, why not have a look at the match preview.

1.00: PEEEP! We are underway at the Zoo in Dunedin.

3.00: The Highlanders set up an attacking lineout from 10 metres out. Andrew Makalio, involved three times from the lineout, barges his way through Jeremy Thrush for his eighth Super Rugby try. 5-0

4.00: CONVERSION! Sam Gilbert adds the extras. 7-0

6.00: TRY! The Landers win a counter-ruck on halfway. Gilbert’s linebreak ends with Aaron Smith sending Marino Mikaele-Tu’u away in the corner. 12-0

7.00: CONVERSION! Gilbert makes no mistake from wide. 14-0

10.00: TRY! Jeremy Thrush crashes over from close range. Ollie Callan’s barnstorming run saw Ian Prior go close before the veteran lock dotted down. 14-5

11.00: MISS! Ian Prior cannot convert. 14-5

14.00: The Force botch a good opportunity outside the Landers’ 22.

15.00: TRY! Thomas Umaga-Jensen breaks through a poorly defended ruck and races from halfway into the 22 before offloading to the supporting Scott Gregory, who stepped Manasa Mataele and Jake Strachan to score. 19-5

16.00: CONVERSION! The kick is good again. 21-5

20.00: No try for the hosts, but Medrano was caught offside in the build-up. Aaron Smith wants a lineout.

22.00: TRY! Mikaele-Tu’u powers his way over from the back of the attacking scrum to claim a brace next to the poles. The number eight sold a dummy and beat Fergus Lee-Warner from close range. 26-5

23.00: CONVERSION! Gilbert adds the extras. 28-5

26.00: Reesjan Pasitoa, with nobody in front of him, drops the ball and a certain try. That is poor from the flyhalf, especially with the scoreline as it is.

28.00: Highlanders set up another attacking lineout.

30.00: Andrew Makalio is held up over the line for a goalline dropout to the visitors.

33.00: YELLOW CARD! Josh Dickson, for the third time this season, is carded for a high tackle. 28-5

33.00: TRY! Andrew Ready takes Ollie Callan’s wonderful offload and crashes through Ethan de Groot to score. 28-10

35.00: MISS! Prior cannot convert. 28-10

37.00: Ollie Callan knocks the ball out of Reesjan Pasitoa as the standoff tried to clear, but Pasitoa recovered to get his team out of danger.

39.00: The Force launches a final attack of the half, winning a penalty on the halfway line. Reesjan Pasitoa kicks to the 22.

41.00: An action-packed first-half ends with Smith booting the ball into touch.

The halftime score was Highlanders 28 Western Force 10

41.00: PEEEP! We are back underway in Dunedin.

43.00: TRY! Easy as you like! From the lineout, the Landers go through a couple of phases before Smith finds Makalio with a flat pass to notch a brace. 33-10

44.00: CONVERSION! Gilbert can’t miss it. 35-10

46.00: It’s a bit stop-start at the moment as players get treated, and scrums collapse.

48.00: The ref warns the forwards for repeat scrum infractions.

50.00: Massive scrum by the Aussies, who earn a penalty near the Landers’ line. Richard Kahui kicks to touch but does not find the corner. A collapsed maul leads to another attacking lineout.

52.00: Nothing comes from the promising attack.

54.00: TRY! Rhys Marshall flops over the whitewash after a powerful driving maul. 40-10

55.00: CONVERSION! Gilbert shaves the inside of the right post. 42-10

58.00: TRY! A well-worked front-of-the-lineout move ends with Folau Fakatava chasing and gathering Marshall’s chip-kick to score. 47-10

59.00: CONVERSION! The kick is good. 49-10

64.00: It’s all Highlanders, the Force is going through the motions in Dunedin.

68.00: YELLOW CARD! Feleti Kaitu’u is off for 10 minutes. 49-10

71.00: The Force has been blunt tonight, they look likely to go scoreless since the 33rd-minute.

74.00: RED CARD! Richard Kahui’s head makes contact with Mitch Hunt’s head, and the Kiwi is off. That is a horrible call because there is nothing Kahui could do to pull out of the ducking Hunt. 49-10

76.00: Jake McIntyre boots the Force deep into the opposition’s 22, but the Aussie forwards lose the attacking lineout. that is terrible from the Perth side.

78.00: TRY! Billy Harmon boots forward Fakatava’s offload chases the ball and beats the defender to dot down next to the poles.

80.00: CONVERSION! The kick is good, this is the Highlanders’ biggest ever Super Rugby margin of victory. 56-10

81.00: TRY! The Force almost wins a tighthead, but the ball is kicked back onto the Landers’ side. The hosts attack from deep and go through the hands to Fakatava to go over in the corner. 61-10

83.00: MISS! Daniel Lienert-Brown, playing in his 100th Super Rugby match, pulls his conversion wide. 61-10


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The final score is Highlanders 61 (28) Western Force 10 (10)


Tries – Makalio (2), Mikaele-Tu’u (2), Gregory, Marshall, Fakatava (2), Harmon
Pen –
Con – Gilbert (8)
Drop –
Cards – Dickson (Yellow, 33′)

Western Force
Tries – Thrush, Ready
Pen –
Con –
Drop –
Cards – Kaitu’u (Yellow, 68′), Kahui (Red, 74′)

Match Officials
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2: 
Angus Mabey
TMO: Shane McDermott


Highlanders: 15 Connor Garden-Bachop, 14 Fetuli Paea, 13 Josh Timu, 12 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 11 Scott Gregory, 10 Sam Gilbert, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 James Lentjes (co-captain), 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Ethan de Groot.

Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Saula Mau, 19 Fabian Holland, 20 Hugh Renton, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Mitch Hunt, 23 Liam Coombes-Fabling.

Western Force: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Kyle Godwin (captain), 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Reesjan Pasitoa, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Tim Anstee, 7 Ollie Callan, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Tom Robertson.

Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Bo Abra, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Richard Kahui 23 Jake McIntyre.

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