‘Our own worst enemy’ – Highlanders flattened out in 60’s

The Highlanders ran eight attempts, beating Western Force 61-10 in their Super Rugby Pacific match in Dunedin on Friday night.

Western Force’s Super Rugby Pacific season collapsed after losing 61-10 to the Highlanders.

They lost 28-5 in 23 minutes after four tries in Dunedin on Friday night, unrivaled to boost their playoff ambitions against a violent home team.

With the loss, Force has eight games left in the top eight of the eight-point game and they have a long way to go to close that gap with their fixtures, including the Chiefs and Hurricane.

Force captain Kyle Godwin admitted it was a rough night, with his side admitting eight attempts.

“Unfortunately we were our own worst enemy there,” he told Stan Sport.

“We’ve been chasing the game a lot since the beginning‚Ķ they were and that game got off to a great start.

“Physical, broken area, tonight we were really poor in that area, the Highlanders were running fast balls.”

It again highlighted the gulf between the Force and the competition elite, dropping 0-3 against New Zealand-based teams in the campaign, while it was a third-straight win for the Highlanders as they continued their late-season charge.

Hooker Andrew Macalio also hit the first shot in two minutes but big forward Marino Mikelle-Tuu jumped twice in five minutes.

Thomas Umaga-Jensen of Highlanders charged Upfield.

Thomas Umaga-Jensen of Highlanders charged Upfield. (Photo by Joe Allison / Getty Images)

Former All Black Lock Jeremy Thursh pulled an attempt back for the Force but they quickly tackled another pair, the influential Mikel-Tu doubling a scrum in the 22nd minute.

Macalio quickly got his double after halftime, his barging effort so strong that it sent Force Center Bailey Quenzel to the bench with a head knock.

The initial effort shattered the force’s consciousness and points accumulated for the Highlanders as Rice Marshall and Folau Fakatava crossed, and things got worse when Richard Kahui was sent off for a high shot.

The Highlanders did not give up, making two attempts in the last few minutes to complete the push.

Mikaele-Tu’u created a magical display with 45 runs to go with her two attempts, while the center was dominated by Thomas Umaga-Jensen (45 m) and Fetuli Peya (60 m).

The Highlanders are eighth in the table and finish the regular season facing the NSW Waratah and Melbourne rebels.

Highlanders captain Aaron Smith said it was a big result because they wanted to make an impact in the playoffs.

“It was an outstanding result for us. It was great to be back home. We had a few weeks away,” he told Stan Sport.

“To do a performance like that, we’ve probably searched all year (was great).

“You can see the strength. We are really proud of our efforts, a full 23 member squad.

“We will win, they will not come easily to this vibration. We are just trying to make our game for the playoffs.”


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