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Moana Pasifika player ratings vs Highlanders | Super Rugby Pacific

By Jack O'Rourke
Ereatara Enari. (Photo by Derek Morrison/Photosport)

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Moana Pasifika visited the Highlanders under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin for Friday night rugby to kick off round eight of Super Rugby Pacific. 

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 The Highlanders started fast, scoring in the first ten minutes, but Moana Pasifika were able to strike back quickly with a try to Aumua. Two tries from rolling mauls gave the Highlanders the lead going into halftime.  

Moana Pasifika put in a huge shift in defence to begin the second half, repelling waves of Highlanders attack in their 22, but eventually caved to the pressure in the 52nd minute. They immediately hit back through Tima Fainga’anuku. Fatigue set in late into the match and Moana Pasifika’s discipline went out the window giving away back-to-back-to-back penalties allowing the Landers to run away with the game late in the second half, triumphing 37-17 in their first win of the season. 

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Here’s how Moana Pasifika rated:

1. Ezekiel Lindenmuth – 6.5/10
Had plenty of important carries early as Moana Pasifika built phases and momentum to get over the advantage line. Got through plenty of work in defence until he was replaced late in the game. 

2. Luteru Tolai – 6
The human wrecking-ball made hard-earned metres through the middle and was relied on when phase play broke down. Was solid at lineout time and fronted up in the scrum against a strong Highlanders pack. 

3. Sekope Kepu – 7
The side’s skipper led the forwards at set-piece time. Sustained a shoulder injury in the 26th minute but battled through for most of the game. Won some crucial scrum penalties against the head. 

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4. Veikoso Poloniati – 5
On a number of occasions, Poloniati was able to contest the Highlanders lineout throw and disrupted their momentum in the maul. Contributed 8 tackles to the team’s defensive effort. He was given a yellow card after successive team penalties. 

5. Samuel Slade – 6
Was mobile and damaging with the ball in his hands. The Samoan international was a frequent target in the lineout. 

6. Solomone Funaki – 6
Strong on both sides of the ball. His offloading from the ground set up some attacking chances for his fellow forwards.

 

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7. Alamanda Motuga – 6
Put in a big defensive effort with nine tackles and carried hard all night. Was given a yellow card in the 66th minute in a critical part of the game when Moana Pasifika were on their heels. 

8. Penitoa Finau – 6
With 14 tackles he topped the team’s tackle count. Was a part of a massive shift in defence early in the second half when Moana Pasifika was pinned on their line. 

9. Ereatara Enari – 6.5
Challenged the defence by darting off the ruck. Put his ball carriers in motion and was influential in creating quick ball for Moana Pasifika. 

10. Christian Leali’ifano – 6.5
Playing in his 155th Super Rugby game, The experienced playmaker was tasked with unlocking Moana Pasifika’s exciting backline. He created chances for those around him and had a hand in putting Fainga’anuku away for his try. He shifted to accommodate McClutchie but chances were hard to come by as the backline tired towards the back end of the match. 

11. Timoci Tavatavanawai – 6
Made a 40-metre break off the kickoff that put Moana Pasifika in a position to score in the first half. He was electric all night and the Landers found him difficult to contain, making 70 metres. 

12. Danny Toala – 6
Acted as a creator in the backline and looked dangerous in open space. Was hard to put down with the ball in hand but perhaps wasn’t the game-breaker that the team needed.  

13. Levi Aumua – 7
Looked to break open the game and he was strong in the carry. Scored Moana Pasifika’s first try off the back of some great build-up early in the game. Was an organiser in defence and made a fantastic spot tackle to shut down the Highlanders attack in the second half. 

14. Tima Fainga’anuku – 6
Was guilty of coming off his wing to leave space for Mosese Dawai to score the Landers’ first try. Scored an important try to keep Moana Pasifika within touch of the Highlanders. Carried hard all night and made 75 metres. 

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15. William Havili – 6.5
Was safe under the highball all night and was able to turn the opposition around with his clearance kicks. He also took it upon himself to handle penalty kicks for touch. Only came up to play in the backline late in the game. 

Reserves:

16. Samiuela Moli – N/A
On in the 63rd minute but wasn’t very effective. 

17. Abraham Pole – N/A
Also on in the 63rd minute. 

18. Chris Apoua – 4
On in the 60th minute. Immediately gave away a silly penalty which allowed the Highlanders to extend their lead. 

19. Mahonri Ngakuru – N/A
On in the 63rd minute. 

20. Sione Tu’ipulotu – N/A
On in the second half at some point but was hardly sighted. 

21. Jonathan Taumateine – 5
The Samoan scrumhalf came on late in the second half but couldn’t get his team over the advantage line. 

22. Lincoln McClutchie – 6
Came on in the 60th minute and added some spark to the Moana Pasifika. Needed to get his hands on the ball more. 

23. Fine Inisi – 5.5
On in the 63rd minute. Made some good front-up tackles but got limited opportunities to fully stretch his legs.

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