Dunedin - A fast-flagging Highlanders escaped with the narrowest of
victories to put their season back on track with a 23-22 victory over
the Golden Lions in their Super 15 clash in Dunedin on Saturday. As it happened: Highlanders v Lions
Highlanders led 23-0 at half-time but failed to score a point in the
second half as the Lions stormed back with the outcome hinging on a
conversion attempt by replacement flyhalf Elton Jantjies after the
The ball hit the posts and bounced back onto the
field, and an appeal by Lions captain Warren Whiteley for the kick to be
taken again because the Highlanders had charged too soon was turned
down by Australian referee Angus Gardiner.
The victory put the
Highlanders, who lost last week in South Africa to the lowly Stormers,
just five points behind the New Zealand conference leaders Waikato
Chiefs but with a game in hand.
However, for the Lions the wafer-thin loss meant further misery.
starting the season strongly, they have now lost five in a row although
they still remain third in the South African conference behind the Sharks and Bulls.
In the high-paced game, the
Highlanders were immediately on the board when Richard Buckman scored
the first of his two tries by wrong-footing the defence down the right
The Lions had enough possession to be threatening and
produced every variation in their playbook only to be constantly stalled
by the well-drilled Highlanders who gradually edged away with a penalty
and drop goal by Hayden Parker.
The Highlanders broadened the buffer in the last four minutes of the half when they punished the Lions with two quick tries.
first, from turnover ball, produced Buckman's second try when he
outsprinted the Lions defence after Phil Burleigh had booted the ball 50
Then on the stroke of half-time, replacement
Gareth Evans scored in the corner after Ben Smith had shredded the
Lions' defensive line.
But the short turn around after the
journey back from South Africa during the week began to take its toll on
the Highlanders from the moment play resumed.
Two minutes after
the restart Francois de Klerk drove over to cap a series of
pick-and-goes by a Lions pack able to find holes where the Highlanders
tight five should have been.
Marnitz Boshoff landed the
conversion but then crucially, the normally reliable kicker, missed his
next two shots at goal when Lionel Mapoe and Armand van der Merwe scored
to leave the Lions six points down at 23-17.
On the stroke of
full-time, Courtnall Skosan scored in the corner but Boshoff's
replacement Jantjies was unable to seal the game.Teams:Highlanders
15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Jason Emery, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 John Hardie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Joe Wheeler, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Chris King
Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Kane Hames, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 Gareth Evans
15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Substitutes: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Rudi Matthee, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 JW Jonker