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Highlanders player ratings vs Hurricanes | Super Rugby Pacific

By Sam Smith
Fetuli Paea. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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The Highlanders have suffered their third-straight loss of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, going down to the Hurricanes 21-14 in Wellington.

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It was a scrappy affair with neither side managing to hold onto possession for any extend periods of time. While the Highlanders managed to get their attack functioning better in the second half, individual errors handed the Hurricanes some relatively straightforward tries.

As a whole, it was a muted performance from the visitors in Wellington and coach Tony Brown will be pondering whether there are any personnel changes that can help stop the rot ahead of next weekend’s fixture with the Blues.

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How did the Highlanders perform in their defeat?

1. Ethan de Groot – 7.5
Solid as a house at scrum time. Had a few nice carries but got caught running upright at times. Has a big frame, needs to make the most of it. A busy tackler in the first half. Off in 45th minute.

2. Liam Coltman – 6.5
No issues at lineout time, hitting every single one of his targets. Some nice back-to-back effort on attack late in the first stanza and was generally happy to carry. Penalised once for not rolling away from the tackle.  Off in 59th minute.

3. Jermaine Ainsley – 6.5
Continues to impress with his tidy work around the park but left much of the carrying to his teammates. One cog in a strong Highlanders set-piece. Off in 65th minute.

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4. Bryn Evans – 6
Secured a breakdown turnover early in the second quarter when the Hurricanes were looking interested. Useful at lineout time. Offered little with ball in hand but hit plenty of breakdowns when the Highlanders had possession. Off in 51st minute.

5. Josh Dickson – 6.5
Biggest contribution was scoring a very well-taken try but otherwise faded into the background. Forced the Hurricanes to infringe at the breakdown early after getting over the ball. Stripped during his first carry of the match.

6. Shannon Frizell – 6.5
Busy on both attack and defence in the opening exchanges. Penalised for a double movement when the Highlanders were close to the try line. Some nice work from the second-half kick-off earned the Highlanders prime attacking ball. Handy at lineout time, managing one steal.

 

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7. Hugh Renton – 4
Busy on defence but not a great day at the office overall. Penalised twice in the first quarter, once for a bad intercept attempt and once for not releasing the tackled player at the breakdown. Fell off a relatively straightforward tackle on Pouri Rakete-Stones, giving the big prop the space he needed to run 20 metres for the Hurricanes’ first try. Off in 45th minute.

8. Gareth Evans – 5.5
A quiet game from the former All Black. Cost his team possession twice in the first half. Secure at lineout time but certainly not a dynamic performance.

9. Folau Fakatava – 4
A long way off the form he showed for the Highlanders at the beginning of 2021 but that’s no surprise given he’s only recently returned from injury. Caught more than once around the base of the ruck and gave dicey service to the men around him. Did throw one lovely inside ball to Liam Coombes-Fabling for the winger’s linebreak in the first half. Earned his side a breakdown penalty moments later but then was pinged himself for sealing off from the ensuing possession.  Off in 40th minute.

10. Mitch Hunt – 5
Looked good when the Highlanders had momentum on attack but that was especially rare during Hunt’s time on the field. Shuffled the ball on the rest of the time. Missed touch with a penalty kick shortly before halftime. Off in 51st minute.

11. Liam Coombes-Fabling – 4
Had a few yips early with play not really flowing his way but made a nice break into the Hurricanes’ 22 at the start of the second quarter. Dropped a kick-pass from Marty Banks that would’ve certainly resulted in a try had it been taken. Did some good work under the high ball.

12. Thomas Umaga-Jensen – 8
Broke through two tackles to set up the Highlanders’ first attack inside the Hurricanes’ 22 and caused problems for the Hurricanes all evening. Looked good with ball in hand, capable of busting a tackle or two even from a standing start.

13. Fetuli Paea – 7
Prominent with the ball, managing 50 metres worth of carries. Caught flat-footed on defence by Bailyn Sullivan in the build-up to the Hurricanes’ second try. Off in 57th minute.

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14. Sam Gilbert – 5
Popped up all over the park but didn’t offer much in the way of incisiveness. Penalised for killing the breakdown late in the first half.

15. Connor Garden-Bachop – 7.5
Made some nice darts from the backfield, looked much better this week after a quiet game against the Chiefs. The Highlanders’ most dangerous ball-carrier. One bad miskick.

Reserves:

16. Rhys Marshall – 7
On in 59th minute. A very good cameo off the pine, making plenty of carries late in the game.

17. Dan Lienert-Brown – 6
On in 45th minute. Helped his side dominate the Hurricanes’ scrum as soon as he entered the fray.

18. Saula Ma’u – 6.5
On in 65th minute. Nice carry and offload with his first touch and looked secure at scrum time.

19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit – 7.5
On in 51st minute. Looked great off the bench, adding plenty of impact. Showed good awareness to nab a loose ball and score the Highlanders’ first try and carried with vigour.

20. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u – 5
On in 45th minute. Couldn’t hold his teammate’s offload and coughed up possession with his first touch. Got involved but lacked accuracy at times.

21. Aaron Smith – 7
On in 40th minute. Upped the tempo as soon as joined the game and the Highlanders looked much deadlier with Smith serving up the ball.

22. Marty Banks – 6
On in 51st minute. Tried to get the attack going and was more aggressive than Hunt. Put in a nice kick-pass for Coombes-Fabling with his first real touch of the match. Dropped the ball cold on attack moments later. Nailed his two shots at goal.

23. Scott Gregory – 5.5
On in 57th minute. Continued Paea’s work on attack but was well-beaten on the outside by Peter Umaga-Jensen, handing the Hurricanes their third try.

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