Landers looking to build on recent good form

Highlander winger Jona Nareki gets past Fiji Drua Flanker Etonia Waqa to score during Sunday’s...
Highlander winger Jona Nareki gets past Fiji Drua Flanker Etonia Waqa to score during Sunday’s game at Forsyth Barr Stadium. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The Highlanders are looking to roll up their sleeves and do it all over again this weekend.

After crushing the Fijian Drua 39-3 at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Sunday, the Highlanders have booked themselves a spot in the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs.

The Highlanders, who sit seventh with six wins, were solid across the park.

Assistant coach Dave Dillon was pleased with his side’s defensive effort in keeping the Drua to just three points.

"Always nice when the other team doesn’t score a try, but just looking as the game was unfolding and that, there was a couple of handling errors and that from them, they made a few line breaks", Dillon said.

"The bounce of the ball was definitely on our side."

The Highlanders scored some sparkling tries through their back three as well as a late intercept to replacement No 8 Nikora Broughton.

"[Assistant coaches] Kenny Lynn and Tom Donnelly work pretty close on that side of the ball, so it was good to see some of their work that they’d strategically plotted to come to fruition."

Winger Jona Nareki was a cut above in his first game back after nursing a hamstring complaint and bagged two tries for his side.

"He’s had some bad luck with injury Choc", Dillon said.

"He has real value on and off the field. To get him back on and see what he can do, I thought he was class."

Right winger Timoci Tavatavanawai was also sublime and helped himself to a blockbusting try.

But his work over the ball and coming up with jackal turnovers might be his greatest weapon.

"As a defensive coach, to have a winger that has that awareness and strength over the ball it’s almost like a super power", Dillon said.

The Highlanders head to Wellington this weekend to play the Hurricanes, who will be buoyed by their 20-17 win against the Chiefs in their final round-robin game.

The Highlanders will need to ramp things up after they were well beaten 47-12 when they played the Hurricanes back in round six.

"We’ve got to continue to build. Obviously they’re up around the top of the table for a reason.

"This season we played them down here and it was probably one of our poorest performances. We’re looking forward to getting up there and rolling up our sleeves and getting into it."