Get the Sport24 daily newsletter delivered to your Inbox!


    Reds cling on to upset Highlanders

    2016-04-09 13:55

    Cape Town - The Reds clung on to upset defending champions the Highlanders for their first win in 2016, clinching a 28-27 thriller at Suncorp Stadium.

    Second place playing 17th seemed an obvious mismatch except the Reds tore up the script initially, building up a 28-6 lead in the second half before the Highlanders hit back.

    Tries in the first half from Liam Gill, Nick Frisby and Samu Kerevi put the Reds in a healthy position. But the Highlanders were never likely to lie down, and had two scores disallowed in the second half before recording three thanks to Aaron Smith, Malakai Fekitoa and Lima Sopoaga. However they couldn't complete what would have been a remarkable comeback, as the Reds desperately held them out.

    Coming off their bye week the Reds looked full of running, getting the best out of the outstanding Kerevi by putting the ball into the hands of the giant 22-year-old as often as possible during the early stages.

    Kerevi's direct running combined with the soft hands of Karmichael Hunt transformed one of the least effective attacks in Super Rugby into a force, running in three first-half tries in comfortably the Reds' best performance of the year as the Highlanders missed 28 tackles in the first 40 minutes alone.

    Having the Wallabies flanker Gill fit again on the openside has been a resounding boost for the 2011 champions and it was he who opened the scoring with a try in the second minute. Good work from Nick Frisby put Gill away in the corner as he shrugged off a challenge from Patrick Osborne.

    A Highlanders response was almost instant, except Rob Thompson was unable to haul in an Aaron Smith pass from a long-range attack.

    The hosts were more clinical, doubling their try tally as they continually crossed the advantage line, this time Kerevi releasing Eto Nabuli down the touchline to set up Nick Frisby to score.

    Lima Sopoaga's second penalty closed the gap on the scoreboard to just six points before Jake McIntyre responded with a well-taken drop goal to make it 15-6.

    The Reds though continued to find space in a frantic final ten minutes to the first half, that man Kerevi finishing off a move starting by Hunt's take under the high ball and consequent offload.

    Freed up down the touchline, Kerevi stepped his way around Highlanders full-back Matt Faddes, starting for the injured Ben Smith, before diving over in the corner.

    McIntyre converted and could have added more points with a long-range effort shortly before the interval, but his kick drifted wide as the Reds headed down the tunnel ahead 22-6.

    A sharp response from the visitors was expected but Shane Christie's score was ruled out after he was offside infront of Osborne when the winger kicked ahead.

    Instead the Reds extended their lead with a McIntyre penalty, won after hard work at the breakdown by Andrew Ready.

    The Highlanders must have been questioning their luck after another possible score, this time for Sopoaga, was chalked off for a neck roll at a previous ruck, with the Reds instead going back upfield and knocking over another three points from McIntyre after Josh Hohneck went offside.

    Holding such a comfortable lead, and sniffing that first win of the season, the Reds began to go into their shell allowing the Highlanders to hit back with some swagger.

    Set up from a five-metre lineout, Liam Squire's blindside burst drew in the last man to free up Aaron Smith for a score in the corner, Sopoaga converting to make it 28-13.

    Two quick scores then flipped the game on its head, Fekitoa battering his way over from close range before Sopoaga went coast to coast after an interception on defence, the fly-half winning the footrace and converting his own score brilliantly from the touchline to make it 28-27.

    Ayumu Goromaru had a chance with the penalty to settle things down for the Reds but couldn't land the kick, setting up a frantic finish after Osborne's line break had the Highlanders in the Reds half, but the hosts did enough to finally secure that elusive first win of the year.


    Reds 28

    Tries: Gill, Frisby, Kerevi
    Conversions: McIntyre (2)
    Penalties: McIntyre (2)
    Drop Goal: McIntyre

    Highlanders 27

    Tries: A Smith, Fekitoa, Sopoaga
    Conversions: Sopoaga (3)
    Penalties: Sopoaga (2)



    15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (c) 

    Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Sef Fa'agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Ayumu Goromaru


    15 Matt Faddes, 14 Jack Wilson, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Pat Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Shane Christie (c), 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

    Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ross Geldenhuys, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Jason Emery

    Read More On:  highlanders reds super rugby rugby

    What To Read Next

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk


    23 February 2017
    • Rebels v Blues, AAMI Park 12:45
    24 February 2017
    • Highlanders v Chiefs, 10:35
    • Reds v Sharks, Suncorp Stadium 13:00
    25 February 2017
    • Sunwolves v Hurricanes, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 08:15
    • Crusaders v Brumbies, AMI Stadium 10:35
    • Waratahs v Force, Allianz Stadium 12:45
    • Cheetahs v Lions, Toyota Stadium 17:05
    • Kings v Jaguares, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 19:15
    • Stormers v Bulls, Cape Town 21:30


    06 August 2016
    30 July 2016
    23 July 2016
    22 July 2016
    16 July 2016
    15 July 2016
    09 July 2016
    08 July 2016
    02 July 2016
    01 July 2016
    29 May 2016
    28 May 2016
    27 May 2016
    21 May 2016
    20 May 2016
    14 May 2016
    13 May 2016
    07 May 2016
    06 May 2016
    30 April 2016
    29 April 2016
    24 April 2016
    23 April 2016
    22 April 2016
    16 April 2016
    15 April 2016
    09 April 2016
    08 April 2016
    03 April 2016
    02 April 2016
    01 April 2016
    27 March 2016
    26 March 2016
    25 March 2016
    19 March 2016
    18 March 2016
    12 March 2016
    11 March 2016
    05 March 2016
    04 March 2016
    27 February 2016
    26 February 2016

    Opinion Poll

    Jake White will leave his job as Montpellier coach next year. Where would you like to see the former Springbok coach, coach next?

    The ultimate Super Rugby quiz!

    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.