Highlanders have to find way to improve: Gilbert

Highlanders second five, Sam Gilbert, tries to get something going against the Hurricanes on...
Highlanders second five, Sam Gilbert, tries to get something going against the Hurricanes on Saturday night. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Sam Gilbert knows the Highlanders need to get better.

Gilbert and his team-mates did not particularly enjoy their Easter Saturday as they got a 47-12 towelling from the Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The Hurricanes are the best team in Super Rugby right now and the Highlanders are a work in progress, so perhaps the result was not a complete shock.

It has still provided an unwelcome reminder as they head into bye week that the Highlanders have a long way to go if they are to get a seat at the top table.

"The Hurricanes just put 40 on us, so I guess that’s the reality of where we are at," Gilbert said on Saturday night.

"We’ve got to find a way to get better and compete with teams like that, and find a way to get better each week.

"I think we’re creating a lot of opportunities, but we can’t quite finish them.

"There’s a difference between scoring 35-40 points and only two tries."

Saturday’s game was effectively over when the Hurricanes roared to a 33-0 lead.

Gilbert felt the Highlanders were too slow to learn from their mistakes in the first 30 minutes or so of the game.

"They were going straight through our ruck and staying on top, and their speed of ball was just too hard to live with.

"I don’t think we adapted quickly enough, and it’s pretty hard to chase a game against a good team like that.

"You look at the Hurricanes and they’re top of the comp, and that’s where you want to be.

"You’ve got to come out and match that, and I don’t think we did that."

It has been a season of moderate success for the Highlanders, who have won two from six and are in the eighth and final playoff position, but another fine year for Gilbert.

He is now vice-captain and the unquestioned first-choice second five after starting his Super Rugby career as a fullback.

Gilbert was looking forward to some family time in Wanaka over the rest of Easter Weekend.

But bye week does not mean seven glorious days of getting rugby out of the system.

"We’re in the middle of the year so you’ve got to keep training and stay on top of things.

"We’ve got to find a way to get better as a team and as an individual."

When they return, the Highlanders are quickly on a plane and heading to Australia for tricky road games against the Rebels and the Reds.

Then it is back home to host the Force before the intriguing trip to Tonga to play Moana Pasifika.