Highlanders snuff out Waratahs - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Highlanders snuff out Waratahs

Highlanders snuff out Waratahs

The Clan snuffed out the Waratahs’ season at Forsyth Barr Stadium but dropped their guard late in the game and failed to earn a crucial bonus point.

First half

The Highlanders dominated possession at the beginning, but were unable to capitalise because of determined defence from the visitors. It wasn’t until the 13th minute that they opened their account with a 43-metre penalty goal from in front.

Only a minute later Highlander Buckman scored the first try in controversial circumstances . Firstly, the referee was in the way of a clearing pass from Phipps, and secondly, a replay seemed to show the try-scorer in front of the ricochet off the shins of a team mate when Foley grubbered through.

Israel Folau – scored a try before half-time from a standing start

But the Waratahs didn’t let the decision get to them, and only four minutes later, Israel Folau scored a superb try under the crossbar by wrong-footing defenders from a standing start, 22 metres out.

Despite a scrum penalty goal to The Clan, the Waratahs seemed to have an edge now. Just before the break a brilliant long pass from Phipps to barn-storming winger Naiyaravoro, let him score in the corner. The wide conversion from Foley was fine also and the Tahs were in the lead.

Halftime score: Highlanders 13 – Waratahs 14

Nick Phipps – threw a killer pass for Naiyaravoro to score

Second half

The second half was ‘now or never’ for the Waratahs and they were able to put the Highlanders under pressure for the first stanza, but at 46 minutes Dean Mumm was shown a yellow card for a reckless clean out.

Dean Mumm – got carded and the Highlanders scored two tries in his absence

The home side capitalised on the extra-man advantage immediately with a driving Liam Coltman try, and Tevita Li going over in the corner a few minutes later for The Clan to lead 23-14 ten minutes into the half.

The remainder of the game was entertaining: the Waratahs trying to stay in touch for a bonus point and/or victory, and the Highlanders trying to put the visitors away and notch up an important bonus point for themselves.

Thompson scored next for The Clan to put them out to a 16-point lead, but then Tahs’ scrummie, Jake Gordon, snuck through to score.

Tevita Li – scored early in the second half

The Highlanders were still ahead but at 30-21 they must have felt uneasy, as there were still ten minutes left.

However the home team put the result beyond doubt through two brilliant tries scored in three minutes by Dan Lienert-Brown and Lima Sopoaga.

The game was in the bag, and also the bonus point it seemed, but with four minutes left Gordon spoiled the party and ran through lazy ruck defenders near The Clan 22 to score untouched under the posts.

Final score: Highlanders 44 – Waratahs 28

Jake Gordon – his second try spoiled the Highlanders’ party for the bonus point

Despite controversies about the Buckman try and later with the Lienert-Brown try, in which hands seemed to propel the ball forward, the Highlanders were deserved winners over a determined and improved Waratahs’ side.

I just need to close with a bit of gloating and point out that my prediction was for a high scoring game with the Highlanders victorious by 15 points.

OK, I was one point out!

Ned Hanigan – could be in the frame for the Wallabies’ squad

The Game Changer

Dean Mumm’s yellow card in the 45th minute was a spoiler for the Waratahs.  The Highlanders scored two tries in quick succession while he was sitting down and they got out to a lead that proved to be unassailable.


I’m not sure who the official MOTM but if it wasn’t Ben Smith I’d be surprised; so he’s mine. The fullback was impeccable in his return from a 3-week injury layoff to record 16 carries for 3 clean breaks and 6 defenders beaten.

Wallaby Watch

Latu pushed his claims for the starting 2 jersey, and although it might be a bit early to debut Hanigan in gold, I’d be surprised if Cheika doesn’t want to at least keep him in the loop via the wider training squad.

Ben Smith – Man of the match

Score & Scorers

Highlanders – 44

Tries: R. Buckman (14′), L. Coltman (45′), T. Li (50′), R. Thompson (63′), D. Lienert-Brown (71), L. Sopoaga (73) .

Conversions: M. Banks (16′), L. Sopoaga (64′, 72′, 75′)

Penalties: M. Banks (13, 33).

Waratahs – 28

Tries: J. Gordon (60′, 76′), I. Folau (18′), T. Naiyaravoro (38′).

Conversions: B. Foley (19′, 40′, 70′, 77′)

Cards & Citings

Yellow Card

D. Mumm – Dangerous play (46′)



  • Brumby Runner

    I agree, Hanigan is looking like a future star. Really like the way he run s on to the ball at pace and his agression in contact.

  • Adrian

    Yes game went as I predicted too, if not the way I hoped.

    Good thing is that most of the likely Wallabies are in form, unlike last year.

    • Brumby Runner

      Latu, Hooper, Foley and Folau – maybe Kepu if not injured. Probably no others unless there is Tahs bias in the selections.

      • Andy

        Agree. Could see Hanigan getting a shot in the wider squad though and maybe the reserve halfback. But you can’t say any of the others are deserving.

      • Adrian

        Latu, Kepu, Robertson (though I wouldn’t have him), Skelton (in more team of the weeks than any other lock this year) Hooper, Phipps (has come back into form), Foley, Folau are all in, and in form. Hanigan and Gordon also in form and possibilities.

        Forget bias, ….that traditionally favours the Reds,…if you count up selections, and place in the table.

        BTY Brumbies have 6 certainty’s (Sio, Alaalatoa, Fardy, Arnold, Kurandrani, Speight) plus 3 strong possibilities in Powell Alcock and Banks

        Reds, Force and Rebels will get about 4-5 each.

        All likely selections are in form, but no teams (incl Brumbies & Tahs) are in form. Moore’s not in form.

        I reckon we’ll have a far better and in form team than at this time last year!

  • Fatflanker

    I’ll grudgingly concede Luke Whitelock made a feeble gesture loosely indicative of someone contemplating the vague possibility of attempting a charge down so I don’t think Buckman’s try was too contentious. Nonetheless feeling a bit churlish about the refereeing in this game. Stupid as it was, I thought Mumm’s tackle was a line-ball penalty, not a yellow. Elliot Dixon landed flat on his forearms after he was dropped from horizontal, and for mine, neither his head nor chest make contact with the ground until he rolled over.

    • Timbo

      It doesnt matter if it was a charge down or not. The rule is – A player is offside if he is in front of a team-mate who last played the ball. In general play, the only team that can be offside are the team with the ball. A charge down only puts the ball carrying team onside. Buckmans try was incorrectly allowed. He was obviously offside and the fact that the TMO was either incompetent in not knowing the laws, or just didnt care, is a terrible reflection on our game that is struggling in a 4 code country.
      In the same way, the TMO again didnt want to see the knock on or that Tevita Li was offside when Fekitoa chip kicked.
      Two tries that shouldn’t have been awarded and one that should have been questioned.
      Mumm was unlucky however frustration got to him as Dickson had not released as the tackler and was infringing nor was he lifted beyond the horizontal, and nor was he taken off for a head check. That being said, with the focus of refs on all dangerous play, lifting in any situation, is stupid.
      So with three less tries to the skirts and Hegerty staying on the pine, we might have had a chance

      • mikado

        For me, both decisions were correct.

        • Timbo

          Well then you don’t understand the laws. Buckman was offside every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

        • Lee Grant

          It was close but Buckman’s front foot was in front of the line across from where the ball left Whitelock’s shin.

          It’s play on every day of the week except when the eyes of the TMO are invoked.

          But they were invoked and he just got it wrong in my opinion – just as players and the other match officials get things wrong.

          His assessor may have a few words to him.

          Whatever – the Tahs didn’t lose the game because of that.

      • first time long time

        The Buckman try was a tough one but Mumms card was called for, they picked him up and threw him. It was stupid and dangerous.
        FFS Nabuli got carded just for lazily slapping a guy on the side of the head.
        Don’t bleat too loudly mate, it’s reffing like that, that won you the game against the Reds

    • Dally M

      Yeah it’s tough enough to beat the Kiwi teams, let alone at home and with the refs (all from NZ) doing them favours like that.

      You know they are bad calls when the Kiwi commentators are calling them out as wrong.

      • first time long time

        Justin Marshall was the only one singing that tune and I think he was trying to be the Tim Horan of Kiwi commentating. He was also banging on about the 2 accidental off sides which the ref ruled correctly and consistently on.

        The Tahs were lucky not to lose by more but they hung in there well for periods of the game when I thought they were going to get blown away.

        Looks like they will be joining the Reds in the dole queue come finals time!

  • Bobas

    Buckman was offside, clear as day.
    There should be no ‘clear or obvious’ when it comes to offside when both are in the same camera angle, it should be a certain call.
    The cop out is that this footage didn’t show when it was kicked, HOWEVER, when the footage has both players are in the frame, and one is in front of the other the entire time and stays there until after the ball has been kicked… then there’s you’re answer.
    That maul try would have stood if they asked me only about the grounding, but the hooker throw threw the lineout inside the field of play.
    Mumm would not have even been penalised and I love to hate that guy. Fuck me there’s worse clear outs than they every 10 rucks.

  • Andy

    Game changer wasn’t just Mumm’s yellow, it was the bench. There is some utter shit coming off it. Full of turnover magnets, bad tacklers, people who can’t clear out rucks, the list goes on.

    Fitzpatrick, McDulling, Ryan, Angus T to name a few. Absolute crap at this level. Holloway offers bugger all as well. I counted 4 turnovers from Fitzpatrick in his 30 minutes on the field. Gibson must know his job is in clouds when these guys come on. He basically needs his first XV to play 80 minutes if he has any chance of beating a half decent team.

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