Baby Highlanders capitulate in second-half to hand Baabaas the win

Noah Hotham
Noah Hotham
A second-half collapse left the Highlanders in disarray after the opening round of the Super Rugby under-20 competition in Taupo yesterday.

The Baby Landers led the Barbarians 14-8 at halftime before the Baabaas, showing all the enterprise and effervescence of their famous namesakes, threw caution to the not insignificant wind and rattled on five wonderful tries in the second half.

Eyes were popping in the 62nd minute when the Barbarians scored a magnificent try from a set play to take a 29-17 lead.

From a quick tap, No 8 Nikora Broughton — the best player on show — lofted in an audacious kick over his own head, and team-mate Will Gualter dived on it.

The Highlanders brought it back to 29-24, but the Barbarians lifted a gear and absolutely dominated the final 10 minutes.

Halfback and captain Noah Hotham had shone in the first half for the Highlanders, who looked good in patches but did not do enough with the wind behind them.

No 8 Semesi Tupou-Ta’eiloa started strongly but faded, and while prop Rohan Wingham showed his strength and lock Oliver Haig showed some skill, the Highlanders did not operate well as a pack.

Cameron Miller landed a couple of outrageously difficult conversions, but it was not really a day where the most promising backs in the Highlanders region got to shine.

The Baby Landers play the Blues on Wednesday.

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