Highlanders cut loose and crush Rebels

The Highlanders got back to winning ways in Super Rugby when they smashed the Rebels 43-12 at Invercargill on Friday.

The Highlanders suffered their first loss of the season last weekend against the Brumbies but hit back in spectacular style with a 7 tries to none bonus point victory.

The Rebels started strongly and it looked for a short time like the Rebels could secure their second victory of the season but on the half an hour mark the Highlanders found their game.

The scores were level at 12-all at half time but the Highlanders came out for the second half like a new team and scored 31 unanswered points.

The Highlanders took 32 minutes to score their first try through fullback Ben Smith when they were trailing 9-0, thanks to the reliable boot of Wallabies flyhalf James O’Connor.

But the home side ran in four tries in 14 minutes on either side of halftime to rush to a 24-12 lead to bank their first four-try bonus point of the season.

The Highlanders have won five out of six matches this season but all have been tight victories as their previous highest winning margin was only four points.

Their win on Friday, at their alternative home ground of Rugby Park in the southernmost city in New Zealand, puts them temporarily to the top of the championship table in the first match of the sixth round.

Flanker Adam Thomson scored the first of his three tries in the third minute of first-half stoppage time to lock the halftime score at 12-12.

Thomson scored his second three minutes into the second half as the Highlanders shook off the Rebels and began to build an unassailable lead.

The flanker created a try for winger Kade Poki in the sixth minute of the second half, had another try disallowed when his foot knicked the touchline in the 68th minute, but claimed his hat trick with a legitimate try two minutes later.

Thomson was part of the All Blacks’ winning Rugby World Cup squad last year but his personal world cup campaign was wrecked by injuries.

He now has the chance to establish himself as the All Blacks’ No. 1 blindside flanker in the absence of the incumbent, Jerome Kaino, who is heading to Japan when the Super Rugby season ends.

The Highlanders played their trademark game of holding the ball through a long series of phases, stretching their opponents on one flank, then the other, then pressing the defence to breaking point.

Jamie Mackintosh scored a try for the hardworking Highlanders tight forwards in the 58th minute before Thomson added his third and the last of the match in the 70th.

Ben Smith also scored a brace of tries and had a hand in one of Thomson’s tries.

For the Rebels James O’Connor had no trouble kicking goals, moving past 50 points for the season and to improve his success rate to 95 percent to provide the only Rebels scoring with four penalty goals.

Final Score Highlanders 43 (12) Rebels 12 (12)


Tries – B. Smith 2, A. Thomson 3, K. Poki, J. Mackintosh
Pen –
Con – C. Noakes 4
Drop –
Cards – D. Tietjens (yellow)

Tries –
Pen – J. O’Connor 4
Con –
Drop –
Cards – L. Johansson (yellow and white),

Match Officials
Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Assistant Ref 1: Vinny Munro
Assistant Ref 2: Lourens vd Merwe
TMO: Kane McBride



1. Jamie Mackintosh (c), 2. Jason Rutledge. 3. Chris King, 4. Josh Bekhuis, 5. Jarrad Hoeata, 6. Adam Thomson, 7. James Haskell, 8. Nasi Manu, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Chris Noakes, 11. Hosea Gear, 12. Shaun Treeby, 13. Tamati Ellison, 14. Kade Poki, 15. Ben Smith.

Reserves: 16. Brayden Mitchell, 17. Ma’afu Fia, 18. Culum Retalli

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