ODT Online rugby
contributor Jeff Cheshire rates the Highlanders on their
performance against the Chiefs in Dunedin.
Ben Smith: 7.5/10. Was lethal on the counterattack,
found gaps in the defensive line at will and showed great
pace exploiting them. Great pick up to score first try.
Kade Poki: 7.5/10. Looked dangerous every time he
touched the ball, ran strongly and broke tackles, great
Phil Burleigh: 6.5/10. Didn't do much wrong, was very
tidy and distributed well.
Ma'a Nonu: 6/10. A mixed bag on his Highlanders debut,
at times showed glimpses of his best form but didn't make
quite the impact he can do. Defensive lapse in the first half
led to the first Chiefs try.
Hosea Gear: 7/10. Big, strong and powerful, got
involved often and took good options. Showed his class by
beating four men to score right before halftime.
Lima Sopoaga: 7/10.
Looked to take the line on and did so well. Passed well too
and kicked accurately.
Aaron Smith: 6.5/10. Provided excellent service as
always with a crisp pass, but could have run more from the
Nasi Manu: 6.5/10. Was a prominent ball carrier early
and provided good go-forward. Left the field late in the
first half with a suspected broken foot or ankle, was a huge
loss and will be hard to replace in the coming weeks.
John Hardie: 6.5/10. Fast around the field and tackled
well. Looked to get his hands on the ball and run. Dropped
pass that led to Nanai-Williams second try was pivotal
Joe Wheeler: 6/10. Worked hard and didn't do much
wrong, was the main chaser used to contest the kickoffs.
Bekhuis: 7/10. Outstanding around the field, tackled
well, got a couple of turnovers and was good with ball in
hand. Would have rated higher had it not been for a faltering
Jarrad Hoeata: 6.5/10. Strong, especially in the
second half where he started getting his hands on the ball
more. Worked hard and was physical as always.
Ma'afu Fia: 6/10. Solid without being spectacular, at
times he seemed to be under a lot pressure at scrum time.
Brayden Mitchell: 6.5/10. Got involved a lot and threw
himself into plenty but didn't seem to be able to impose
himself physically as Andrew Hore would have done.
Tony Woodcock: 6/10. Another performer who was solid
rather than spectacular. Provided a cool head when running
the ball, setting it well but not really gaining any
go-forward. Was part of a scrum that struggled.
Liam Coltman: 6/10. Brought more physicality
to the game than was shown by Brayden Mitchell. Lineout
throwing wasn't great though, and brainless late tackle cost
Bronson Murray: 6.5/10. Made a big hit almost
immediately after coming on which generated a turnover. The
scrum seemed to improve after he was introduced as well.
Elliot Dixon: 6.5/10. Replaced Manu just before half
time and showed why he is so highly regarded. Ran hard and
threw himself into everything.
Tim Boys: Not enough time for rating. Came on and
Fumiaki Tanaka. Not enough time for rating. Provided
good service and wasn't afraid to scrap in his Super Rugby
Hayden Parker. Not enough time for rating. Mainly
distributed and didn't do a lot wrong, a good taster for a
very promising youngster.
Buxton Popoalii. Not enough time for rating. Didn't
get a whole lot chances after replacing Poki late in the