Highlanders get job done: now we wait

Highlanders flanker Liam Squire pushes off Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps in a strong run at Rugby...
Highlanders flanker Liam Squire pushes off Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps in a strong run at Rugby Park Stadium in Invercargill last night. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Job done - now sit back and pray.

The Highlanders had a resounding 49-12 victory over the Waratahs in Invercargill last night.

The win gave the team five competition points and temporarily a place in the top eight.

But plenty of water has to flow under the bridge before the playoff positions are decided tomorrow and the Highlanders will need many cards to fall their way.

But they did what they had to and more in Invercargill last night, finishing well ahead of a Waratahs team low on spirit and accuracy.

The Highlanders scored at better than a point a minute in the first half and kept the game safe in the second period.

The home team was a step ahead all night and, at long last after a season of misfires on attack, things clicked with the ball in hand.

Players ran hard and the space opened up against a passive Waratahs defence. It had the edge in the set piece and the Waratahs made little ground with the ball in hand.

Best for the Highlanders were halfback Aaron Smith, second five-eighth Tei Walden while up front lock Tom Franklin and hooker Liam Coltman were relentless.

Flanker Liam Squire showed his wares well in front of All Black coach Steve Hansen.

The home side had a dream first half - scoring six tries and not conceding one penalty in the first 40 minutes.

The Highlanders exploded out of the blocks and had three tries within the first 20 minutes. They had all the ball and the Waratahs were on the back foot the entire period.

Fullback Josh McKay scored the first try after seven minutes. The visiting team kicked the ball through and it sat up for McKay. He then hoofed the ball down field into open territory.

Waratahs flanker Will Miller raced back to try to get the ball but only proceeded to knock it on. McKay calmly picked it up and sprinted 10m to score.

That was followed up by a Tevita Li try three minutes later.

The Highlanders turned the ball over in a breakdown and freed up Waisake Naholo on the right.

The ball was then shifted to the left and Li went over after beating a couple of defenders.

The scores kept coming and Franklin got his name on the try sheet when he busted over from a breakdown.

His try was set up by a storming run from Squire, who ran over a defender before making a mazy 40m run.

That gave the Highlanders the valuable try-scoring bonus point and the home side added another when Naholo popped up at the first receiver and barged his way under the posts.

The crowd was getting its money's worth and the visiting side managed to get one back when fullback Alex Newsome went over.

The Highlanders though were not finished and scored a penalty try with seven minutes left in the first half.

The forwards won a 5m lineout and were heading to the tryline when Waratahs prop Tom Robertson came in from the side to push the maul out. Referee Mike Fraser had no hesitation in awarding the seven pointer and gave Robertson a yellow card.

Just before the break, Highlanders second five-eighth Tei Walden ran a good angle off yet another bullet Aaron Smith pass and crawled over the line untouched.

Ioane added the extras and the Highlanders were up a rather unbelievable 42-7 at the break.

Highlanders v Waratahs

The scores

Highlanders 49

Josh McKay, Tevita Li, Tom Franklin, Waisake Naholo, Tei Walden, Rob Thompson tries;

Josh Ioane 5 con, Elliot Dixon con; penalty try.

Waratahs  12

Alex Newsome, Mack Mason tries;

Mason con

Halftime: 42-7
Crowd: 7340

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