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Highlanders player ratings vs Reds | Super Rugby Pacific

By Nick Turnbull
Ethan de Groot. (Photo by AAP Image/Darren England)

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The Highlanders were victorious against Australian Super Rugby heavyweights the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium this evening. The men from the deep south of New Zealand took the match 29-17 after grinding down an uncharacteristically passive home side.

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Going into the match the Highlanders needed a win to keep within striking distance of a finals birth and upon this result have moved into eighth position on the Super Rugby ladder. Make no mistake, any side that can come back after being down two players and find a way to win is a side to be wary of moving forward.

This is how the Highlanders rated:

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1. Ethan de Groot – 7.5/10
Solid in the set-piece and worked industriously on both sides of the ball around the recycle. What impresses is his micro-skills as a first receiver and distributor around the first pod. What’s next – a kicking game?

2. Liam Coltman – 7
Started to grow into the game in the latter stages of the first half with several strong carries through the middle of the park. Further impressed with his defensive output. Just a solid performance all round.

3. Jermaine Ainsley – 7.5
Impressed at set-piece and never allowed his opposite to gain a sniff of ascendency. But more to that, he applied himself to the task and was committed in and around the ruck defence and showed he has somewhat of a running game. Are the All Blacks and Wallabies selectors paying attention?

4. Bryn Evans – 6
An anonymous first half probably because he was quietly doing the hard graft. A fair crack.

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5. Josh Dickson – 7
Was the recipient of a yellow card for an ill-timed tackle but when he returned to the park, he was a man ignited. Was a genuine ‘Iron-Man’ in defence and delivered in the set-piece.

6. James Lentjes – 7
One of the Highlanders’ best in the first half despite falling off a few tackles. Exhausted himself and illustrated a wonderful mindset and work ethic. Nearly cost his side with a no-look pass that was snapped up by Tate McDermott who crossed the paint but luckily for the visitors it was disallowed due to a previous error. Complements Billy Harmon well.

7. Billy Harmon – 8
Had a habit of popping up when his side needed him most with either a try-saving tackle or two, a mid-field carry or a charge down to maintain pressure on the Reds. The cumulative effect of all his efforts is not to be underestimated. One of the best on the park tonight.

 

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8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u – 6
Another recipient of a yellow card for a low-grade tip tackle. Despite some strong carries, he was guilty of pushing a pass at times. Yet he wasn’t much of a presence in defence and was exposed either down the short side and through the middle in tight.

9. Aaron Smith – 7
A measured professional performance. Didn’t really chance his arm with a running game, yet he did influence the match with his passing game and game management. Controlled the rhythm and tempo and gave his side wonderful service.

10. Mitch Hunt – 5.5
Has had better nights out at Suncorp. Never really appeared to find a way to consistently influence the match in a positive manner. Whilst there were passages of good play, they were equalled by a missed tackle or poor execution.

11. Scott Gregory – 6.5
A mixed bag. The best thing about him is he plays with great intent but his execution can be hit and miss. Yes, he scored a try, but he also dropped off a tackle or two and was exposed positionally at times. But all things considered, a fair performance.

12. Fetuli Paea – 7
An astute performance and was a handful for the Reds’ attack. Didn’t make every tackle but nullified many Reds raids. Did his job and linked well.

13. Thomas Umaga-Jensen – 7
scored a really impressive try as he had work to do on the edge to get there but he made it happen with sheer will. Like Paea, he linked well and thwarted the Reds several times. Good job.

14. Sam Gilbert – 6
Blessed with talent but yet to shake off the exuberance of youth that can fuel a poor decision or two as displayed this evening, Still, all things considered, he contributed to a much-needed Highlanders win.

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15. Connor Garden-Bachop – 7.5
The stats might not illustrate the intelligence this man played with tonight. Be it his 50/22 kick, or a covering tackle or support-line run he was very impressive and evidently committed to the lads he was playing alongside tonight. Appeared to play with that extra spring in everything he did. A statement match from him.

Reserves:

16. Rhys Marshall – 6
Has a lovely throw and also displayed some impressive footwork around the contact zone. Brought the energy a reserve should.

17. Daniel Lienert-Brown – 6
Akin to Marshall, he brought some zeal for the contest and really took Queensland on through the middle with some telling drives. Impressed in the set-piece.

18. Saula Mau – 6
Dominated the scrum and looked to inject himself into the fray when opportunities presented themselves.

19. Max Hicks – N/A
On late and didn’t see enough

20. Hugh Renton – 6.5
Enjoyed his performance. Managed to win the advantage line several times with his carries and contributed in other facets of the match. Could find himself back as the starting No 8 next week.

21. Folau Fakatava – 7
Was the energy conductor when he came on. Just took the game away from Queensland through his work around the base, bringing runners in close and flat to the line and gaining that ascendency which deflated their opponents.

22. Marty Banks – 6
Just managed the game nicely and didn’t overplay his hand.

23. Mosese Dawai – 6
Had several impressive carries and looks comfortable at this level.

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