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Highlanders player ratings vs Waratahs | Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

By Tom Raine
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The Waratahs’ woes in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman this year continued as the Highlanders ran in their biggest-ever points total against the Sydney franchise, storming to a 59-23 victory and claiming a crucial bonus point to take them to second in the table.


In what was an extremely open game early on, the carpet-like conditions under the roof at Forsyth Barr potentially seemed the perfect playground for the loose, free-flowing style the Waratahs have brought to the competition this year.

Indeed, in a hectic first 20 minutes the lead changed hands five times as the usually impenetrable Highlanders defence leaked eight tackles.

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Despite scoring four tries to the Waratahs two, it was the unerring boot of Will Harrison that kept the away side in contact as the men from New South Wales nearly secured a 26-23 scoreline heading in for the halftime break.

It was not to be, however, as in overtime of the first half, Jona Nareki dotted down following structured and clinical phase play from the Landers. The tone was set from then on in, as the hosts remained out on the pitch at half time, not leaving the field until the job was well and truly done.

One way traffic followed, as a mix of Highlanders structure both defensively and in attack, as well as a lack of concentrated pressure from the Waratahs, saw the home side run in 28 unanswered points for a convincing victory.

Here’s how the Highlanders rated:


1. Ethan De Groot – 7/10

A typically physical performance from the 122kg, 1.90m man mountain. Showed a good work rate around the park, offering himself in the carry and grabbed a nice try from close quarters in the first half, displaying his power and intelligence. Will be unhappy with a couple of unforced errors, getting pinged for getting his poaching wrong on one occasion. Continued strongly in the second half, however, running a great line from deep to nab a second score. Off at 59 mins.

2. Ash Dixon (c) – 7.5

A leader’s performance. A busy presence on the night, available for any carry when asked and tackled like a demon. Crucially laid the foundation every time to launch the Landers most dangerous weapon, their lineout, through his excellent throwing. His accuracy at that set piece paid dividends for both himself and many others in the Landers pack. Off at 64.


3. Siate Tokolahi – 6

Had to wait over 20 minutes to lock horns with Andrew Tuala at scrum time, but when that moment came conceded the first battle to his opposite number. In his second attempt conceded a scrum penalty that saw the Waratahs go ahead due to Harrison’s boot. Started to get into the groove however with his third effort and buckled down to turn the tide. Gave a decent defensive performance. Off at 64.

4. Pari Pari Parkinson – 7.5

A man in form. The beating heart of the Landers’ engine room showed his effectiveness at lineout time, making excellent calls as to when to challenge in the air and when to set defensively and face the drive. Was a constant nuisance to an inexperienced Tahs lineout and made good carries and defensive contributions. Continues to carry forward an impressive lineout record in this competition – the not-so-secret weapon the Landers have honed over the weeks. Off after 60.

5. Bryn Evans – 7

A performance built on nous from the 36-year-old. Provided tidy handling on several occasions as a shield runner allowing the playmakers in Hunt and Ioane to do their job and find their men out wide, on one occasion featuring in the build-up to Nareki’s second. Formed an effective partnership with Parkinson to dominate the Tahs in the lineout. Guilty of a few missed tackles but overall showed a good defensive work rate.

6. James Lentjes – 6.5

Good work on the fringes, combined nicely with Harmon to bring Tony Brown’s selection of Zoom set piece extravaganzas at lineout time to life. Also provided effective link play off Hammington given the ground he covered, carrying well when the ball found him roaming. Off at 53.

7. Billy Harmon – 8

Involved in the first try linking well in an intricate set piece move off a solid Landers lineout. Was ever physical and present at the breakdown, always looking for turnover ball. Made the most tackles for his team with ten and made a couple of great steals, even showing a deft kicking ability. A key player for this Highlanders team with his defensive tenacity.

8. Kazuki Himeno – 7.5

Made the most carries for his team on the night and profited from them, gaining the most metres out of all the Landers pack. Worked hard to pin the Waratahs in their 22 and prevent their exit and was rock solid in setting up the Highlanders’ exit. Gave away the penalty that took the Waratahs to within three but made up for it soon after with a great carry on the half, showing pure grit and determination in the lead up to Nareki’s try. Continued to back it up just after the break, gaining an important penalty. Another who profited from the Landers’ excellent set piece on the night.

9. Kayne Hammington – 6.5

Provided quick ruck ball and looked to have found structure and poise early on displaying nice touches and a range of kicks. However as the first half went on and the Waratahs brought their trademark looseness to the game there was a period in which the Landers looked to have lost their way structurally speaking. The 30-year-old on his 50th Landers appearance, however, ensured that late in the first half phases were built and in the second half that that good work continued.

10. Mitch Hunt – 7.5

It is hard in a competition featuring the dazzling ridiculousness of Richie Mo’unga for a ten to be applauded for simply doing the basics well but Hunt deserves praise for his solid outing tonight. The first-five rarely missed a beat with his exits finding touch regularly. His kicking also put the Landers pack in prime position to launch their lineout time and time again. Admittedly misjudged the highball that led to the Tahs second try but in a game not filled with structure he brought composure and a touch of class.

11. Jona Nareki – 7

A night of ups and downs for one of the most exciting wingers in New Zealand at the moment. Committed an early defensive error shooting up on Maddocks and missing his man leading to the Tahs first try. Drew a lot of fouls in the first half and copped a heavy hit from Perese but played on to finish the game. Was solid under the high ball and had moments of key defensive intervention – securing a great turnover and cutting down Perese as his broke the line. Showed pace and finishing to score twice and take his competition total to four. Could have even had three more if passes had come his way.

12. Scott Gregory – 6.5

Ran a good line for the first try and was adjudged by the TMO to be right on the money. Provided a big defensive presence and brought plenty of physicality in helping to shut down the dangerous Perese alongside Collins. He has been a key cog in making this Landers defence the best in the competition and led the tackle count in the backs tonight. Carried straight into the white wall on several occasions. A few moments that weren’t as sharp skills-wise but a good night for the 22-year-old.

13. Michael Collins – 7.5

Brilliant in the first half and, like Hunt, had a silently effective second half as the Landers settled into their structure. His defensive understanding with Gregory is clear given the two have played every game in the comp and yet again they tonight led the high press. Earned a great first try worked off a technical set piece, running a great inward line to take the final pass. Was slightly out of place for Maddocks’ try and was outdone by a quality face-ball but responded strongly with two try assists – first showing awareness to cut late with Tomkinson and second providing a moneyball of his own to set Nareki up in the corner. Ospreys fans will be watching with interest.

14. Patelesio Tomkinson – 6.5

Great offload to set up Collins for the Highlanders’ first and showed all the benefits that can come from playing a natural centre on the wing. Brought physicality down the right hand side, applying himself defensively and won a crucial penalty for the Landers on 20 with his efforts. As he got into the game, started to come more infield offering himself as another playmaker. Had the awareness of a winger to run a lovely late cut as Collins returned the favour and allowed the winger his third try of the competition. Nearly set up Nareki for a second but just gave the ball a little late. Off at 45.

15. Josh Ioane – 6.5

A very assured night at the back from the one-test All Black. Positioned himself perfectly and showed good decision-making to run when he saw an opportunity to and kick if needed. His dynamism was on show too as he beat the most defenders on the night. Also grabbed a lovely assist giving the ball early for Nareki’s second.


16. Liam Coltman – 6

On at 64. A mixed bag at lineout time but added experience to the Landers scrum when he came on.

17. Daniel Lienert-Brown – N/A

On at 59 mins.

18. Josh Hohneck – 6

On at 64. Won two good scrum penalties against a wilting Tahs pack.

19. Josh Dickson – 6

On at 60 mins. Continued where Parkinson left off setting up a solid lineout maul to draw the penalty. With his second lineout set up the try with another fantastic maul.

20. Hugh Renton – 5.5

On at 53 min. Continued the Landers defensive efforts from his introduction making good tackles and securing a crucial turnover.

21. James Arscott – N/A

On at 72.

22. Sam Gilbert – 6

On at 47 min. Got involved defensively and looked to attack with ball in hand making 51 metres. Pulled up for a long time by the TMO for something that proved negligible. Almost bagged a try of his own but denied by a last ditch tackle from a scrambling defence.

23. Teariki Ben-Nicholas – 6

On at 72. Nabbed a good score off the bottom of a dominant Highlanders scrum.


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