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Highlanders player ratings vs Waratahs | Super Rugby Pacific

By Nick Turnbull
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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The Highlanders have been handed a momentum-stifling defeat by the Waratahs 32-20 at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Sunday.

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The Highlanders took the lead in the opening minutes with a try to powerhouse lock Josh Dickson, yet it was the visitors who displayed their newfound ‘Tah Toughness’ and ground down the hosts, who did not help themselves with a red card to flyhalf Sam Gilbert.

Not the way veteran hooker Liam Coltman would have liked to have finished in Dunedin, with the Taranaki lad moving to Lyon for the next chapter in his rugby life. Thanks for the memories Liam and we wish you well.

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1. Daniel Lienert-Brown – 7/10

Impressed in the set piece, giving four-test Wallaby Paddy Ryan a real contest. Had some notable carries and didn’t go missing in defence. One of the Highlanders’ best today.

2. Liam Coltman – 7.5

Was very good in a losing side today. Defensively a real work horse for his side, and with it being his last for his beloved Highlanders, he wasn’t going out wondering. Did his best to go out with a win but it wasn’t to be.

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3. Saula Mau – 5.5

Had a tough time at set piece and worked hard to get himself into other aspects of the match. Showed he has a skillset, but perhaps the left-foot kicking game is one to be left for the backyard on Sunday.

4. Sam Caird – 7

Exhaustive performance by the 2021 Waratah and appears to be relishing the opportunity to play Super Rugby back in New Zealand. Can be proud of his efforts.

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5. Josh Dickson – 7.5

Was immense playing in his 50th, always looked to impose himself physically when the momentum changed as the Waratahs started to front up in the collision.

6. James Lentjes – 7

Tough job against a NSW side whose back row worked its way into the game and appeared to be a little bit hungrier than the home side. Never really found a way to consistently influence the game as he has done in previous weeks.

7. Billy Harmon – 7

By no means a bad game, but, like Lentjes, was outworked by the Tahs, which is going against his form of recent weeks. Decisin-making in possession could have been better today.

8. Hugh Renton – 6.5

Worked hard but the execution wasn’t always there. Questions over his defence and could also leave the niggle out and just focus on nailing the detail that would serve he and his side better.

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9. Aaron Smith – 7

Wonderful service as always, but, to be fair, he was outplayed by Jake Gordon, who appeared to drill his side around the park better than ‘Nugget’. Wasn’t as ruthless as he needed to be.

10. Sam Gilbert – 4

Red carded for a dangerous throw on Michael Hooper. A moment of idiocy that in itself didn’t cost his side the match, but boy it made it so much harder for them. Scratch this one up to experience and move on young man – you’re better than that.

11. Rory van Vugt – 5

Bit of a nothing performance. Gave away the odd penalty, made a tackle or two and had a bit of run. Not much else.

12. Scott Gregory – 6

He was okay. Scored a wonderful try down the left edge but also had moments of paper-thin defence. Think of Will Harris’ try. Needs to improve his consistency if the Highlanders are to go deep into the finals.

13. Josh Timu – 6.5

Bit to like about him. Handy defender and can carry then ball with affect as on display today. A fair effort.

14. Denny Solomona – 6

Had some dangerous moments in possession but they were few and far between. Has the ability to break open a game and would have liked to have seen him look for more work.

15. Connor Garden-Bachop – 6

Was threatening on the counter attack early and wasn’t short of effort today, but never really found a way to dominate the Tahs as they looked to play with ball-in-hand more often as the match went on. Didn’t feature in defence.

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Reserves:

16. Andrew Makalio – 4

Average today. Execution let him down in defence. Scrum was under pressure when he came on. Had better days.

17. Luca Inch – N/A

Came on in the 71st for his debut. Well done that man. Didn’t see enough.

18.  Josh Hohneck – 5

No great impact. Bang average today.

19. Max Hicks – 5

Akin to most of the Highlanders bench – didn’t bring much.

20. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u – 5.5

Can run the ball but needed to be a bigger presence up front physically.

21. Folau Fakatava – 5

Bit flat yesterday.

22. Marty Banks – 5.5

Who doesn’t love Marty Banks? But all his experience didn’t shine through today.

23. Liam Coombes-Fabling – 6

One of the few Highlanders reserves who did bring a bit of energy to the park.

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