Donnelly rues lack of accuracy

Try-scorer Timoci Tavatavanawai in action for the Highlanders against the Chiefs in Hamilton on...
Try-scorer Timoci Tavatavanawai in action for the Highlanders against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Sometimes the Highlanders are their own worst enemy.

Assistant coach Tom Donnelly was honest in saying their error rate and accuracy in their 28-21 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday was not good enough.

The Highlanders had 66% of the possession, but they conceded 22 turnovers.

Add in two yellow cards — Tanielu Tale’a will face the judicial committee this week after he was upgraded to a red for making contact with Quinn Tupaea’s head during a cleanout — and it made for tough going.

However, there was some nice work to finish off the game as the Highlanders scored three tries in the final quarter to push the Chiefs in the final stages.

"We obviously started pretty poorly," Donnelly said.

"The harder we tried the more errors we made and just sort of let them into the game.

"[It was] Good to sort of stay in it and almost come back in the end to try and force a draw, but we’re just a little bit off with our accuracy for a start."

It was a frustrating scenario but Donnelly said they knew they were good enough.

The young squad needed to be better at hanging in games.

"If we can do that and play our game, we’re pretty dangerous."

The Highlanders’ never-say-die attitude at the end was something to be proud of, and helped them nab a bonus point, but they still extended their losing streak against New Zealand sides to 18.

"I think there’s some definite areas we have to improve on for us to be competitive against New Zealand teams.

"But good signs that we’ve got some ticker, we don’t give up, we work bloody hard for each other which is good, but we just need to get way
more accurate, particularly against New Zealand teams, to
be successful."

The Highlanders are back home at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin against the unbeaten Hurricanes on Saturday, and are up for a big game in front of "our people".

"We’re really desperate to put a performance[on] that our fans can be proud of at our stadium," Donnelly said.

"We just have to work really hard at making sure we’re accurate.

"If we’re really accurate with what we do that allows us to play our game and when we play our game, we’re not bad.

"It’s just we’re making too many mistakes. It allows us to sort of go away from our game, and when we go away from our game, we’re just not quite good enough."

Jermaine Ainsley has pulled up with a bad back after the Chiefs clash.

He looked in trouble when he made a tackle in the final seconds of the game.

Donnelly said they would know more with the results of his scan which he had yesterday afternoon.

There is better news on the horizon.

Prop Ethan de Groot and Max Hicks, who missed last week due to concussion and a sprained wrist respectively, trained yesterday and looked likely for the Hurricanes game.