Lack of attack from Highlanders

Highlanders No 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u tries to get past Hurricanes defender Wes Goosen in...
Highlanders No 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u tries to get past Hurricanes defender Wes Goosen in Wellington yesterday. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The game is made up of 100 one-percenters. For a team like the Highlanders, it comes down firstly to doing the basics well and efficiently.

Muck those up and the side simply does not have the firepower to pull a rabbit out of the hat to win games.

So when the side missed three crucial lineouts in the final quarter of its game against the Hurricanes in Wellington it was only going to end one way.

The side went down 17-11, earning a bonus point for the narrow loss.

It defended well and never let the Hurricanes — which has some X-factor players — get away.

But defending in the modern game is the strength of many teams. Attack is what win games and the Highlanders did not offer enough to get in front.

It made twice as many tackles as its opponent — 188 to 89 — and also had a third of the territory and less than 40% of the ball.

Looking at those statistics it was a wonder the side conceded only three tries. It did defend well and the players have developed trust in each other when without the ball.

The side’s attack though is scratchy and is struggling to hang on to the ball.

A couple of poor kicks when it had the penalty advantage did not help the Highlanders and it just could not keep enough pressure on the home team to get more than the one try.

Liam Coltman came off the bench for the final 20 minutes and he could not connect with his jumpers at lineout time as the side turned over ball.

It had started well as Mitch Hunt ran through a gap to set up Aaron Smith who scored under the bar.

Referee Brendon Pickerell though ruled the try out for an obstruction by Ash Dixon. The Hurricanes did the same thing straight afterwards and were also rightly penalised.

The Highlanders scored their only try well into the second half when, from a 5m lineout, the side drove the ball up, and Dixon went the blind side, drew the final defender and Smith went in untouched.

With two minutes left, the Highlanders kicked a handy penalty to get within seven points. It then had to attempt to run the ball back 100m at the end to win the game. Under defensive rules, the chances of scoring the winning try was similar to Hamish Walker’s political ambitions.

It ended with an a wonky lineout. Smith put in a good effort for the Highlanders while up front Shannon Frizell, Pari Pari Parkinson and Ayden Johnstone worked hard.

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