Highlanders not quite clinical enough: Mauger

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger at Forsyth Barr Stadium last night. Photo: Getty Images
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger at Forsyth Barr Stadium last night. Photo: Getty Images

The Highlanders seemed to have to win last night's game against the Reds about three times, coach Aaron Mauger said last night.

The side saw off the Australian team 36-31 in a close battle, scoring the winning try with just over five minutes left.

Mauger said the side showed some nice plays on attack but probably was not quite clinical enough at times.

"It was everything we expected from the Reds. Everything we had previewed ... a team that would have a lot of guts and play for 80 minutes.

"I thought we did a lot of things very well but gave them some opportunities to stay in the game which was a bit disappointing,'' Mauger said.

"They made it a contest for 80 minutes. We could have been more clinical, definitely. The plan was to move their big pack around and when we did it well, it worked. But when it got a little bit loose, we did not execute the opportunities they created.''

There were no alarm bells over the set piece, with a few lineouts going wrong, Mauger said. It was simply some details to fix.

The side's defence was passive at times and was on its heels too much.

"We probably had to win about three times, to be fair, as the Reds were good ... but I'm really proud of our guys showing the composure to get the points we needed to get ahead.

"The disappointing thing was we had to come back when we didn't need to put ourselves in that position.''

Reds coach Brad Thorn said his side had positives to come from the side but was disappointed to lose.

"It is about putting the foot on the throat and we missed that opportunity ... I guess we will continue to work to get that ruthlessness as a team. There was a lot of good stuff out there,'' he said.

He said the Reds had worked hard in pre-season and paid tribute to Reds lock Izack Rodda, who put on a good performance despite his father's death a couple of days ago.


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