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Highlanders player ratings vs Reds | Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

By Mike Rehu

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Super Rugby Trans-Tasman looked pretty easy for the Highlanders after 35 seconds after some keystone cops from the Reds’ Blyth and Thomas in the first minute. The visitors came back quickly but then found themselves hemmed in to their 22 for long periods of the half as the Highlanders took a couple of chances.

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The Reds stepped up at the start of the second half and played a more cohesive game but the Kiwi team retained its superiority with a final score 40-19.

Here’re the Highlanders’ ratings.

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1. Ayden Johnstone – 6.5

We saw him empty the tank at the start of the 2nd half with some busy defence; 12 tackles for the match. The scrums were ugly with some “lost in translation” techniques. Off at 56.

2. Ash Dixon – 7.5

Good outlet pass for the first try and finished the second. The Highlanders also enjoyed success with their attacking rolling maul for the first time this season, as he bagged a brace with one in the trunk. Busy on the other side of the ball as well, with 14 tackles. Off at 59.

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3. Siate Tokolahi – 6

Wasn’t quite at his best, slow to roll in the 4th minute to set up the try-scoring opportunity for the Reds then a scrum free kick in the 10th. Seemed to struggle with the big body of Zander at scrumtime. Off at 56.

4. Paripari Parkinson – 6.5

Has no interest in hitting the ball at pace, he loves to wrestle his way forward with ball in hand. Made a mess of the kick off at the start of the second half and channeled his anger by rag dolling Daunganu in defence but then penalised at a maul a minute or two later. Some good takes at line out time. Off at 56.

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5. Josh Dickson – 7

Good solid effort from the lock, 30 metres off 8 carries and good organiser and thief at the lineouts.

6. Hugh Renton – 7

He is one of the most animated players in NZ rugby. Game for anything; big tackles, carries and hitting rucks like a stick on a piñata. Muffed a try on halftime but his presence at the breakdown was huge for the home team. 3 turnovers and 14 tackles.

7. Billy Harmon – 7.5

You get the sense that Harmon has a good rugby brain. He finds himself at the right place at the right time and bagged himself 24 tackles by good anticipation.

8. Kazuki Himeno – 6.5

Was required for even more carrying this week with Frizell not around. Watching this guy is a real treat, at 13 minutes he hit a hole at pace and then slipped a lovely ball, then 20 seconds later a strong hammer hit to allow Renton a turnover on Stewart. Seemed to tire in the second stanza but stayed on until late.

9. Aaron Smith – 8

Really has become the heartbeat of this team again since Fakatava’s injury. Beautiful passing, shifting the attack at pace. The pass he threw to Tomkinson for his try was one of the best you’ll see; in terms of vision, distance and accuracy. Really ups the ante once his team get into the red zone with a real urgency. Off at 75.

10. Mitch Hunt – 7

Some nice touches from the little lieutenant. During the first half I was reminded of that 2015 RWC quarter final where Carter kept the Springboks pegged in their 22. Hunt constantly turned the Reds around and they couldn’t exit effectively. Also improved of the kicking tee.

11. Jona Nareki – 7.5

In the 24th minute the Reds gave him a chance to show his strength and we saw some of the running style that saw him star against the Chiefs earlier this season. 81 metres, some good input through the inside channels and a leader in the tackling stakes. Winner of the most entertaining post match interview. ‘Little Choc Man’ indeed…….

12. Scott Gregory – 6.5

Hanging out on the wing and scored after 35 seconds. I like the way he continues to improve at inside centre, he has no fear of tackling and loved taking on Tupou.

13. Michael Collins – 6

Impressed me with his commitment to run straight lines with ball in hand, most notably in the lead up to the Ash Dixon try.

14. Patelsio Tomkinson – 5.5

Looked ok on the wing, good positioning for his try. Struggled with kick off receipts though , dropping two.

15. Sam Gilbert – 7

Didn’t see him until the 17th minute when he tried to swallow a loose ball but recovered well to reset an attack. In the 32 minute he showed good balance to plough through tackles then narrowly missed chasing down a try. Pushes his body forward hard into contact. Couldn’t cope with Vunivalu in the air in the 46th minute. Lovely topspin pass off the left hand to set Punivai up for the final try.

Reserves:

16. Liam Coltman – 6

On at 59. Happy to see the line out maul try-scoring option is back and grabbed himself a try.

17. Ethan de Groot – N/A

On at 56.

18. Josh Hohneck – 6

On at 56 and got stuck in at tackle time.

19. Bryn Evans— 6

On at 56, good experienced man to bring on.

20. James Lentjes – N/A

On at 75.

21. Kayne Hammington – N/A

On at 75.

22. Tim O’Malley

On at 75

23.Ngatungane Punivai

On at 61.

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Highlanders player ratings vs Reds | Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

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