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In next weekend's action, the Sharks face the top-of-the-table Hurricanes in Wellington, while the Highlanders travel to Johannesburg to face the Lions.
Be sure to join us again for more interactive commentary!
Congrats to @LimaSopoaga on winning the Highlanders Man of the Match as voted by fans! #HIGvSHA pic.twitter.com/uxZJ2huKjn— The Highlanders (@Highlanders) May 1, 2015
Congrats to @LimaSopoaga on winning the Highlanders Man of the Match as voted by fans! #HIGvSHA pic.twitter.com/uxZJ2huKjn
A dreadful performance from the Sharks!
Poor skill set from the players, lack of intent on attack and simply no commitment on defence.
They have some serious problems...
79'- Marty Banks's conversion attempt is just away to the left...
Highlanders 48-15 Sharks
74' - It's a comedy of errors as Sharks centre Andre Esterhuizen, trying to get into possession to take a pass, falls over his own feet!
70'- Replacement flyhalf Lionel Cronje hits the left hand upright with his conversion attempt, and misses.
Highlanders 43-15 Sharks
Love the brand of rugby the Highlanders are playing, great to watch! All about ball in hand,continuity,searching for space & focus on the ??!— Shaun Pollock (@7polly7) May 1, 2015
Love the brand of rugby the Highlanders are playing, great to watch! All about ball in hand,continuity,searching for space & focus on the ??!
"Ah razzle dazzle Highlander" - NZ commentators loving this train wreck!— Wade Pretorius (@wadepretorius) May 1, 2015
"Ah razzle dazzle Highlander" - NZ commentators loving this train wreck!
67'- CONVERSION slotted by Sopoaga.
Highlanders 43-10 Sharks
65'- Reserve prop Brendon Edmonds scores under the posts for the Highlanders.
It all started after they counter-attacked from a turnover inside their own half. Terrific running rugby!
Sharks don't want the ball and seem not to want to tackle ... Not an ideal mindset for a game of rugby ...— Front Row Grunt (@FrontRowGrunt) May 1, 2015
Sharks don't want the ball and seem not to want to tackle ... Not an ideal mindset for a game of rugby ...
59'- Sopoaga's conversion attempt hits the uprights and goes to the right.
Highlanders 36-10 Sharks
58'- TMO CALL
Another TMO call as Aaron Smith barges over. The referee though wants to check for a forward pass from Buckman to Smith. It was a great break from Buckman in midfield.
Abject lack of urgency by Sharks in own in-goal area. Ridiculous.— Rob Houwing (@RobHouwing) May 1, 2015
Abject lack of urgency by Sharks in own in-goal area. Ridiculous.
57'- CONVERSION slotted by Sopoaga.
Highlanders 31-10 Sharks
56' - TRY awarded to Mark Reddish!
Silly from Hoffmann who took too long to dot the ball dead after it got slapped back from a lineout, before the Highlanders lock caught him out to dot down first.
56'- TMO CALL
Lock Mark Reddish is claiming a try after he caught Hoffmann napping behind the goalline.
55'- Esterhuizen clears for the Sharks, but not very far...
The Sharks scrum also appears under massive pressure here.
48'- METRES RUN
44'- After 15 phases of attack, the Sharks are again held up over the line.
Another five-metre scrum coming up...
Full-time: Highlanders 48-15 Sharks
Banks misses the difficult touchline conversion.
TRY, HIGHLANDERS, DIXON. 48-15. It was coming. Sustained pressure on the Sharks line before Fumiaki Tanaka finds Elliot Dixon on the right who crashes over.
Just as things were looking up, something goes wrong for the Sharks as Wentzel drops a simple pass. Banks clears soon after to halfway.
Replacement fly-half Lionel Cronje strikes the upright. No good.
TRY, SHARKS, DU PLESSIS. 43-15. A consolation score for the Sharks as the Bok hooker is at the back of a driving maul.
CONVERSION, HIGHLANDERS, SOPOAGA. 43-10. Success and it is his last act. Sopoaga and Aaron Smith are replaced.
TRY, HIGHLANDERS, EDMONDS. 41-10. Nothing comes for the Sharks and it's in fact the Highlanders looking threatening now after a Fekitoa break-out. Sopoaga offloads before Pryor does the same to replacement prop Brendon Edmonds. Wow.
Plenty of changes up front for both sides now as Mtawarira, Manu and Smith (concussion) all sit and watch the closing stages. Sharks line-out about 30 metres from the home line.
It's Sopoaga's first miss of the game off the tee.
TRY, HIGHLANDERS, A SMITH. 36-10. Game over now surely as Buckman sets up Aaron Smith for the Highlanders' fifth try.
CONVERSION, HIGHLANDERS, SOPOAGA. 31-10. Two more.
TRY, HIGHLANDERS, REDDISH. 29-10. A gift for the hosts as a bobbling ball in the Sharks in-goal area sees Hoffmann not deal with it and Reddish pounces to ground. Bonus-point try.
So close for the Highlanders as they should have got over through either Smith or Sopoaga, with plenty of men waiting wide out too. They knock-on though so it's a Sharks scrum.
A change for the Highlanders before play restarts as Ben Smith goes off for a concussion test, replaced by Marty Banks. The hosts have a line-out now 20 metres from the Sharks try-line.
It looks like it, particularly as centre Pietersen coughs one up on his own ten-metre under no real pressure. So now could be the opportunity for the Highlanders to trouble the scoreboard.
A massive moment for the Highlanders as they win a relieving penalty at the Sharks scrum. Sopoaga clears after the front-row finish getting their pats on the back. Storm weathered?
Still the Sharks have it only ten metres out with close runners meaning the Highlanders are having to be strong in defence. Held up again over the line, this time Lewies is the man going close.
A change to mention as Reinach has been replaced at scrum-half by Conrad Hoffmann and he's watching a strong maul at the moment, with Coetzee going close. Now Du Plessis has a run at the line. We go to the TMO...he's held up. Attacking scrum.
Welcome back to our coverage of this entertaining game from Dunedin. The Highlanders have a 14-point cushion but don't write off this Sharks side just yet.
Half-time: Highlanders 24-10 Sharks
CONVERSION, HIGHLANDERS, SOPOAGA. 24-10. Another wonderful strike from a difficult position by fly-half Sopoaga.
TRY, HIGHLANDERS, OSBORNE. 22-10. A double strike from the hosts as now Osborne is over to cap another flowing move.
CONVERSION, HIGHLANDERS, SOPOAGA. 17-10. Superb.
TRY, HIGHLANDERS, NAHOLO. 15-10. What a response. A break from Aaron Smith saw him find Ben in support and from the recycled ball Sopoaga chipped across to a scoring Naholo.
CONVERSION, SHARKS, ZEILINGA. 10-10. We are level.
TRY, SHARKS, MTAWARIRA. 10-8. There it is. Power from the Sharks and it's Tendai Mtawarira crashing over for them.
Still they bang on the door, this time from just five metres out.
The Sharks will have decent territory here after Mark Reddish collapses a maul in the visitors half. Now can they launch that dangerous set-piece with Coetzee at the tail off this line-out?
PENALTY, SHARKS, ZEILINGA. 10-3. Tom Franklin is caught offside from a knock-on so here's Zeilinga from 40 metres out.
PENALTY, HIGHLANDERS, SOPOAGA. 10-0. Hands on the ground from flanker Etienne Oosthuizen means it's a simple shot for Sopoaga, who makes no mistake from bang in front.
Again Aaron Smith blows hot and cold as first his break off the scrum is good before a loose pass soon after allows the Sharks an easy out.
They might not have to wait long after Lewies spills one in his own 22. Highlanders scrum then and they are ten metres out.
First Aaron now Ben as the full-back now breaks through the Sharks defence. Fortunately for the visitors they recover and keep the Highlanders at bay - for how long is now the question.
Good and bad from scrum-half Smith as his dummy sees him break over halfway. However, his pass to the right is collected by Mvovo so the chance is blown. Sharks ball now, 40 out.
No joy for the Sharks as Fekitoa lines up Mvovo with the big hit in midfield. That leads to the South Africans being sent back to their own 22 before Zeilinga kicks clear to halfway.
The Sharks have recovered well from that early setback and pack down about 40 metres out. Reinach waits at the base.
CONVERSION, HIGHLANDERS, SOPOAGA. 7-0. Fine kick.
TRY, HIGHLANDERS, EVANS. 5-0. There's the first try of the game as quickly recycled ball sees Nasi Manu find his back-row colleague Evans on the left. Worrying for the Sharks.
Now the Sharks clear their lines after a decent spell from the hosts. It will be a Highlanders line-out on the Sharks 22 now.
And we're off with Lima Sopoaga sending the ball down to lock Lewies. The Sharks threaten early as the powerful Alberts sets up scrum-half Cobus Reinach but he chips ahead instead of passing to his winger. Highlanders line-out on their own 22.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the Highlanders vs Sharks fixture in Dunedin. The hosts are looking to close the gap on the Chiefs and Hurricanes which would also strengthen their grip on the top six places. Meanwhile their South African visitors are fast approaching a win or bust stage of the season. Team news is coming up ahead of kick-off at 19:35 local time.
Highlanders head coach Jamie Joseph makes seven changes as prop Josh Hohneck, lock Mark Reddish, back-row duo Dan Pryor and Gareth Evans, scrum-half Aaron Smith, outside centre Malakai Fekitoa and full-back Ben Smith all come in.
Marco Wentzel will continue as Sharks captain but Bismarck du Plessis returns at hooker. Lourens Adriaanse joins him in the front-row while Stephan Lewies gets the nod over Mouritz Botha at lock. In the backline, JP Pietersen starts at outside centre ahead of Waylon Murray who drops down to the bench.
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