Sun, Mar 27, 2016 - Page 20 News List

Superb Highlanders hold off Rebels in Melbourne

AFP, MELBOURNE

Defending Super Rugby champions the Otago Highlanders yesterday cruised to a bonus point 27-3 win over the Melbourne Rebels in their clash in Melbourne.

A week after downing the New South Wales Waratahs in Sydney, the Highlanders outmuscled the Rebels to score three tries to none on a wet night in the Victorian capital.

The Highlanders’ defense was superb throughout the whole game as they kept their tryline intact, making 119 tackles, missing only nine and forcing a host of turnovers from the Rebels.

They kicked brilliantly, with their first two tries coming courtesy of well-placed kicks behind the Rebels’ line.

“It was an awesome way to finish [the two-match tour of Australia] — we wanted to put in an 80-minute performance and I think we did that tonight,” Highlanders co-captain Shane Christie said. “We’ll now head back home and look forward to the Force next week. We’ve had an awesome couple of weeks on the road and it will be nice to get back home.”

Otago dominated right from the start and opened the scoring thanks to a Lima Musophaga penalty.

They crossed for the first try midway through the first half, when Rebels fullback Jonah Placid spilled an Aaron Smith box kick and inside center Rob Thompson towed ahead to touch down.

Sopoaga converted to bring up his 500th point in Super Rugby, then brought up three more with a second penalty to send the Highlanders into the break up 13-0.

Rebels flyhalf Jack Debreczeni kicked a penalty early in the second half, but the Highlanders extended their lead when Jack Wilson crossed following a Thompson kick ahead.

The Rebels threw everything at the Highlanders, but could not break the defense and they were left shattered when winger Pat Osborne took an intercept 10m from his own line and raced the length of the field to touch down in the corner.

Rebels captain Sean McMahon conceded his team had been outplayed.

“The Highlanders came out and performed at top quality as you’d expect from a championship team,” McMahon said.”All credit to our boys, but we just let a few things go. They were coming hard at us — our defense was good, but we turned too many balls over. They’re great at counterattack and you could see what they did to us when they got the opportunity.”

BULLS 30, SUNWOLVES 27

The Bulls’ bulk and grunt yesterday proved too much for the craft and guile of the Sunwolves as the South Africans claimed a 30-27 in Singapore to leave the new Japanese franchise still searching for a first win.

Bulls skipper Adriaan Strauss, flanker Roelof Smith and winger Jamba Ulengo barged over for the tries at the National Stadium as the three-time champions picked up their second win from four matches this term.

The three-point victory was the least the South Africans could have managed, such was their domination of possession and territory against a side clearly lacking the physicality of their opponents.

CHIEFS 53, FORCE 10

Charlie Ngatai yesterday bagged four tries as the attack-focused Waikato Chiefs opened up in the second half to thump the Western Force in their Super Rugby clash in Hamilton.

It was all one-way traffic after halftime as the Chiefs added 41 unanswered points to their 12-10 lead at the break.

They outscored the Force nine tries to two and picked up a bonus point to remain firmly at the top of the New Zealand conference.

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