LIVE: New-look Highlanders aim to defend home turf in high-stakes final round clash against Rebels


Welcome to 1 NEWS NOW’s live updates of this afternoon’s Super Rugby contest between the Highlanders and Rebels at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

HIG TRY! Highlanders finally work some magic and Naholo is in. Massive counterruck by Hemopo leads to a turnover on the Highlanders’ 22m and they have numbers to the right. Draw and pass until Naholo is in space down the right wing with 60m of clear field in front of him – no one touches him on his way to the corner.

Another knock on in the middle of the field stops the Highlanders attack off the lineout. Rebels turn it into a counterattack down the left wing and Naholo makes a try-saving intercept while chasing on his 22m. Gets taken into touch. Rebels lineout coming up.

REB YELLOW! Sopoaga steps to his right off the scrum as Ruru flies in to tackle him. Ruru’s misread Sopoaga’s step and puts a foot out to trip him up. Ref goes up stairs to confirm it looks deliberate and gets it so Ruru gets a 10 min breather. Highlanders use the penalty to find touch inside the Rebels half.

Li puts a big hit in and the Rebels try to recover. They recycle it but knock it on in the process. Highlanders scrum 35m out.

And the Rebels keep applying pressure. Go to a high kick after the kickoff and Sopoaga can’t bring it in. Knocks it on and gives the Rebels a scrum just inside the Highlanders’ half.

REB TRY! Rebels find numbers on the left wing and they’re over with Hodge in the corner. 

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Highlanders lose the ball off the top and Rebels catch them offguard with a grubber through. Highlanders recover but the backline isn’t set so the ball is popped to Frizell. He looks like he wasn’t expecting it and knocks it on. Rebels scrum 35m out. Highlanders already have four handling errors today to the Rebels one.

Highlanders work a nice set piece off the backline and it puts Li in space down the left wing. He bolts down into the Rebels 22m before he’s taken down, Naholo recycles quickly but gets tackled. Rebels turn it over and kick for touch. Highlanders lineout just inside Rebels half.

Rebels earn a penalty on halfway as the Highlanders are caught offside again and they take a quick tap. It doesn’t work out for them though as in the ensuing tackle the ball is lost. Highlanders scrum, just inside their half.

REB TRY! The risk pays off. Simple drive from the maul and the Rebels are in.

Interesting. Rebels scrum earns a penalty in a kickable position but the Rebels kick for touch. 5m lineout coming up. First big defensive task for the Highlanders.

Highlanders back under pressure after the kickoff as the Rebels earn a scrum. Highlanders got held up after kickoff and the ball wasn’t coming out. Rebels scrum will be just outside the Highlanders’ 22m.

HIG THREE! Highlanders respond almost immediately after Squire makes a barnstorming kick return. Bulldozes through two over halfway and is finally brought down 40m from the Rebels line. Highlanders get the Rebels off guard with a kick to the corner and recover 5m out. Rebels are all over the ball and get penalised. Highlanders play it safe and go to Sopoaga’s boot to even things up.

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REB THREE! Rebels convert their early opportunity into points after the Highlanders are penalised for being offside.  Hodge slots it from 20m out with ease.

Highlanders immediately under pressure after Hemmington’s box kick goes sky high but only 5-10m forward. Rebels recover it and have the ball on the Highlanders’ 22m.

And the Rebels get us underway in Dunedin.



Luke Whitelock of the Highlanders runs at the defence during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Rebels

Luke Whitelock of the Highlanders runs at the defence during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Rebels

Source: Photosport

While the Highlanders are guaranteed a spot in the Super Rugby playoffs regardless of today’s result, seeding between sixth and eighth – and more importantly, the dreaded team that will have to head to South Africa – are yet to be decided.

The Rebels are right in the mix of all the chaos, currently sitting two places behind the Highlanders in eighth with a win in Dunedin guaranteeing them a spot in the playoffs.

So expect fireworks despite the home team’s approach.

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger has rested most of the big names in his team, with Ben Smith, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock and an in-form Rob Thompson all getting the week off, meaning other regulars, such as Waisake Naholo, Lima Sopoaga and Liam Squire will have to offer more in the leadership department this week.

With the changes, Wellington youngster Thomas Umaga-Jenson earns his first Super Rugby cap in a starting jersey, slotting in at No.13 while Tevita Li returns on the wing.

Josh Ioane has been handed fullback while Kayne Hammington takes over at halfback.

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In the forwards, new All Blacks Jackson Hemopo and Shannon Frizell earn starts while James Lentjes captains the team from the openside flank. Liam Squire takes over things at the back of the scrum.

The last time the two sides faced off was last season, where the Highlanders claimed a 51-12 win in Dunedin.

Highlanders: 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Liam Squire, 7 James Lentjes (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jackson Hemopo, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seuili

Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Dillon Hunt, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Matt Faddes, 23 Josh McKay

Rebels: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English (c), 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Fereti Sa’aga

Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Lopeti Timani



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