Attacking coach happy with buildup off ball

Sam Gilbert’s try from the Highlanders’ brilliant counterattack is already being talked up as one of the tries of the season.

But what happened in the buildup to that final blow in the Highlanders’ 35-21 win against Moana Pasifika at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday has left their attack coach pretty happy.

"What’s important as well is the lead-up to that try actually came about because players were working hard off the ball. Their basic skill sets are really good and it’s awesome to see some flair at the end," assistant coach Kenny Lynn said.

"But it was also, as an attack coach, what led to that was more the nuts and bolts which makes all attack effective, so it was good."

Much of the discussion about their attacking firepower has been around the injection of Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens at fullback, but another newcomer in Rhys Patchell drove the team around the park nicely.

The Welshman displayed a touch of class, showed his experience kicking for territory and produced some deft offloads, including a deep ball to Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens to set up one of his tries.

Lynn was rapt to see Patchell have a strong game on debut, off the back of a good preseason.

"He’s embraced how we want to play," Lynn said.

"It’ll be good for him to get a feel for what Super Rugby is like, because it is faster, it’s more attacking intent and so the more he plays, the better he’s going to be in understanding how that is — so happy for him."

There were some passages for the Highlanders to be proud of, but they were their own worst enemy in the first half as the penalty count was 8-1 against them.

That was something the coaching staff addressed yesterday during the review when they gave the players "more tools and strategies" to combat future situations.

But they were still proud to see the way the players addressed the issue themselves in the second half, coming back from being down 18-14 at halftime.

"We got ourselves into a little bit of a hole due to indiscipline and execution, which meant we were behind at halftime.

"But figuring out a way to win, scored some nice tries in the process meant that there’s plenty to review to improve, but also plenty to celebrate."

The Highlanders head to Melbourne later this week and will face the Blues as part of Super Round on Friday night.