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Why the Highlanders won't 'get too disheartened' after another big loss

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

The Highlanders have started their Super Rugby Pacific campaign with two emphatic losses, but they aren’t “going to get too disheartened” as they look to bounce back.

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After losing by 40-points to a talented Blues outfit at Forsyth Barr Stadium last Saturday, the Highlanders prepared to face South Island rivals the Crusaders in Super Round.

While fullback Sam Gilbert was able to kick the ‘Landers’ into an early 3-nil lead, that’s about as good as it got for the team from the far south.

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Defending Super Rugby champions the Crusaders, who were without coach Scott Robertson, ran riot with the ball-in-hand.

Playmaker Richie Mo’unga was back to his best on Friday evening, as the Crusaders avenged their own round one loss with a 52-15 win.

The Highlanders have started their season with two significant losses, which captain Billy Harmon said was “a bit of a bummer.”

“The score is a bit of a bummer but like in that Blues game, there’s a lot of awesome stuff to take out and I think this week will be the same,” Harmon told reporters.

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“We just didn’t quite have the accuracy at the lineout and our exits.

“We did some awesome stuff within our phase defence and our phase attack that really challenge them.”

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The Highlanders are currently last on the Super Rugby Pacific standings, although they’re only one of four teams to have played their round two fixture.

But looking through their schedule, it doesn’t get much easier for the Dunedin-based team next Friday.

After a disappointing performance in Super Round, the Highlanders will play the Chiefs in round three – the team who not only defeated the Crusaders last weekend, but taught them a lesson.

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But the Highlanders are just focusing on what they can do to get better and “keep growing.”

“It’s only round two, we’re not going to get too disheartened,” Harmon added.

“We just still want to keep growing, keep (getting) better. The funny thing is I felt like we did get better in our attack and our D.

“Obviously with that scoreline we weren’t quite accurate and a team like the Crusaders, they can pounce on any opportunity and turn that into points.”

In the second match of Super Round, the Hurricanes recorded their second win of the season but it didn’t come easy.

Captain Ardie Savea made unwanted headlines after a controversial gesture towards a Melbourne Rebels player, which somewhat soured the thrilling 33-39 win.

Up next in Super Round on Saturday, Moana Pasifika will look to upset the Chiefs, while Fijian Drua will be eager to make a statement against the Waratahs.

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