Review: Highlanders v. Reds - The Battle For The Glasshouse - Green and Gold Rugby
Northern Provincial Rugby

Review: Highlanders v. Reds – The Battle For The Glasshouse

Review: Highlanders v. Reds – The Battle For The Glasshouse

The Reds travel down south to Dunedin at the bottom of New Zealand’s south island to take on the Highlanders. It’s a billion years since they’ve had a win in the city. But this is a team that thrives on breaking hoodoos. The locals though, thrive on keeping them running. The Highlanders have looked good losing while the Reds have been unconvincing winning. Today will make the prospects of both teams a whole lot clearer. What ever happens it isn’t going to be boring!

The Match

Both teams were determined to play with the right frame of mind and a fast, open game of rugby broke out. The opening exchanges were riveting with the game surging from one end to the other. The halfbacks, Will Genia and Aaron Smith, were everywhere with Genia in particular giving a master class.

The Reds were the first to score off a Cooper break. Cooper seems to be finding a little of his old magic. He slipped through the right flank of the Highlanders and threw an inside pass to Hanson. But the ball was tapped back by the Highlanders. Somehow Hanson ended up with the ball between his legs and rolled over the line to score.

Good to have you back bro

Good to have you back bro

The Highlanders then hit back with two quick penalty goals and a converted try off a quick tap in front that let Elliott Dixon to crash over. The Reds spent the next ten minutes camped deep in Highlanders territory. They declined two penalty shots and ran a rolling maul off a lineout that carried Liam Gill over the line. From the kickoff they were straight back on  attack until Andrew Hore infringed at a ruck and was binned. Cooper’s penalty shot hit the post and the Reds had loose ball in the Highlanders’ 22. They bashed the ball towards the posts and Jake Schatz scored near the post to take the score to 21-13.

The Highlanders and Reds got a penalty each either side of half time to take it to 24-16. The Reds were still dictating play and 13 minutes into the half Cooper cleverly feinted to the left to give Genia room to score on the right off a five metre scrum. The understanding between the halves is pretty to watch.

The final quarter of the game saw the Highlanders roar back into contention. In the sixtieth minute Hosea Gear scored off a fantastic backline move and some great backing up. From 40 metres out the Highlanders backs swept across the field until they found space on the right wing. The play cut back infield and Gear used his power to charge over the line. The play was definitely with the New Zealanders now. They scored again at 67 minutes. After sustained pressure Nonu pirouetted through the defence to move his team within 1 point of the lead. The Reds’ defence until then had been rock solid. The ease that Nonu got through with must be a worry.

The last ten minutes was nerve racking for everyone. The Reds moved ahead with a penalty goal, the Highlanders pegged the lead back with their own. But they couldn’t do enough to take the lead. The Reds hung on desperately until they kicked the ball out from a scrum free kick after full time.

Wow, what an entertaining match! The Highlanders are desperately unlucky to be carrying a 0-5 win-loss record. The Reds managed another very close victory. Maybe I was wrong? Nothing is any clearer after that game.

The Game Changer

In a game full of exciting open rugby it’s hard to pick a moment or a player. TJ Ioane made a huge impact for the Highlanders off the bench, as did Lima Sopoaga.

But if I have to pick a moment I guess it has to be Andrew Hore’s sin-binning. The Reds scored while he was off the field and ten minutes without a tight forward would have had a huge effect on the four other guys doing the heavy lifting.


Honorable mentions to Quade Cooper, James Hanson, Liam Gill and James Horwill for the Reds; and to Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Hosea Gear and Buxton Popoalii for the Canes. Every player in both teams can feel proud of that match.

will genia profileBut the guy who looked like a walk-up start to any world 15 right now is Will Genia. He is the GAGR MOTM.

Wallaby watch

Quade Cooper is finding some of his old spark in attack. Horwill looks huge and is moving bodies. Tapuai looks dangerous but I wonder what would happen if he passed sometimes.

The Details

Crowd: 12431

Score & Scorers

Highlanders: 33
Tries: Dixon (19:30), Gear (60:20), Nonu (67:00),
Conversions: Slade 1, Sopoaga 2
Penalties: Slade 3, Sopoaga 1

Reds: 34
Tries: Hanson (5:30), Gill (26:30), Schatz (30:30), Genia (53:50)
Conversions: Cooper 4
Penalties: Cooper 2

Cards & citings

Andrew Hore – yellow card


  • Sharon

    Ball tearer? Yes. If I had balls, they’d be shredded.

  • Pedro

    Highlanders must be one of the best teams to watch, despite never winning.

  • rugbyshots

    why have you called the highlanders the hurricanes?

    • A dig at them recruiting Nonu and Hore?

    • I swapped team for some reason! Must have been excited. Fixed now.

  • Rugbyshots

    the reds played the highlanders, not the hurricanes…?

  • rugby shots

    didnt the reds play the highlanders, not the hurricanes…?

  • Gawf

    Think you’ll find that was the Highlanders not the Hurricanes, the Reds played tonight.

  • Genia is a freak. To be out for that long and to recapture his immense form so soon is amazing.

  • bill

    That was a whole lot more fun than I wanted.

    Sopoago, Gear, Popaili?, Ioane …the Highlanders have got some team there.

    Cooper still searching for consistency of performance. I think the time has come for him to defend that 10 channel. That break down the Highlander’s right side by Popaili was a poorly timed piece of defence by Cooper. Defending a busier channel at 10 would give him practice .

    I think opposition coaches will be jumping all over the opportunities Cooper’s edge defence gives them. Not that it’s ever easy to close down a winger with speed and footwork as good as Popaili showed.

    Our best 60 minutes of rugby this year. I thought Jarrod Butler played better this week, it’s rough but I think Browning should come in for him.

    Liam Gill, the ARU need to understand the word talent in the concept talent identification, and high performance units that ignore guys like Gill …I’m lost for a suitable description.

  • Redsfan1

    Reading Skysports NZ commentator Tony ‘TJ’ Johnson was whinging that the Reds had an unfair advantage over the Bulls at Suncorp with the ref. Well the Reds just beat the Higlanders in the heart of NZ so I say put that in your pipe & smoke TJ! Oh and that’s 3/3 for Aussie teams against Kiwi teams this year.

  • Robson

    Without the starch in the forward pack provided by Horwill, the brilliance of Genia and the improving form of Cooper the Reds may have found this a difficult game to take away. As far as Cooper is concerned his goal kicking form, I feel, is adding to his growing general play confidence. What do the Highlanders have to do now to win a game?

  • RyanP

    The Allan may need to stick to having Aaron Smith throw their line outs. He had better success than Hore!

    • RyanP

      The Clan…Autocorrected!

  • Klaus

    Andrew Hores tackle on Rob Simmons should have been a penalty try. It was a certain try. In my mind that sort of stuff in rugby should lead to a red card. It’s pure synical stuff and outright cheating. Players from all countries but especially Nz should be aware if you want to do it you won’t play another minute of that game.

    • theduke


    • spikhaza

      I was surprised it wasn’t given as a penalty try as a referee to be honest, it was a big time offside… penalty try all day everyday for me. And a yellow card, though I think if it is a big time offence it should be straight red.

      In football a cynical foul in a breakout goal scoring opportunity is generally a straight red, and the same should be the case here

  • Noisey

    Agree Taps needs to give it on occasion , he is a great breaker of the line but I think we could have spread it wide a bit more. Both Queensland wings are large and fast and more ball may have improved our for and against. That being said, it was a great game to watch. Both teams played an enjoyable style of rugby. Well done all.

  • David

    Other reports have I think underestimated this victory…the Highlanders are a very good team and even making as many mistakes as they did they still almost got the win. The reds needed to shout Nonu a drink last night for his impact in gifting the game to the reds…I agree with some of the NZ commentators – they underutilized a straight hard Nonu to get over the advantage line.

    This Otago team will beat some contenders as soon as they retain possession for longer periods of time, the reds are probably lucky to get them now and not at the back end of the season…Otago will probably end up like Wellington last season and make a late season run as spoilers.

    The reds obviously missed Gill when he went off but guys like Hanson / Shippers / Shatz all played well..

  • SuckerForRed

    Anyone know why Gill went off at half time?

    • SuckerForRed

      Don’t worry found it. Thumb injury.

      • I heard he had a thumb Injury!

  • cantab

    …highlanders not hurricanes.

    • I got it

      • cantab

        Just stirring Sully.

Northern Provincial Rugby

Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to

More in Northern Provincial Rugby