HIGHLANDERS 57 d. STORMERS 14 @ Forstyth Barr Stadium
Whether it was the Highlanders indicating they are back to their heavyweight best or the Stormers proving they are miles off that standard – or a bit of both – it was an old-fashioned drubbing in Dunedin on Friday night.
THE MATCH: It started very promisingly for the visiting Stormers, with NIzaam Carr finishing off a stunning long-range try in the seventh minute.
But the Highlanders clicked into gear shortly afterwards as wingers Patrick Osborne and Waisake Naholo scored to put the hosts in front a little over 10 minutes later. Osborne grabbed a double inside 22 minutes, Liam Squire scored from rolling maul, and then Osborne turned provider in brilliant fashion for Rob Thompson.
It was virtually all over at 31-7 at halftime.
The Stormers clotted the haemorrhage of points against them for the first 14 minutes of the second half, before Thompson’s speculative kick sat up for Naholo to finish a 90-metre try.
Flanker Dillon Hunt and front-rower Greg Pleasants-Tate chalked up a couple for the ‘pigs’ to break the half-century, and after a consolation effort for Stormers reserve Dewaldt Duvenage, a chip ahead from unlikely source Joe Wheeler produced a late try for Matt Faddes.
THE MAN: Big winger Patrick Osborne has an army of critics for his enigmatic ways – but when he’s good, he’s very good. A game-high 104 metres, six defenders beaten, two tries and a magic assist was a strong night’s work – in his 50th Super Rugby game, no less – that will help Osborne hold a starting place in a very deep Highlanders backline contingent.
— The Highlanders (@Highlanders) April 28, 2017
THE MOMENT: Aaron Smith’s brilliant long pass to put Waisake Naholo over in the 18th minute provided a timely reminder to All Blacks selectors with the Lions series only a month away. Both superstars face stiff competition for their Test spots after battling off-field indiscretions and injuries respectively, but they’re arguably the world’s best in their positions and will be very hard to leave out.
— Nathan McCullum (@MccullumNathan) April 28, 2017
— FOX SPORTS News (@FOXSportsNews) April 28, 2017