The Highlanders again displayed the value of a sound defensive system in their win over the Crusaders on Friday, according to SARugbymag.co.za's Opta-powered stats.
Only the Kings have had less possession than the Highlanders this season (13 minutes, 40 seconds), with the Dunedin-based side also putting boot to ball more often than anyone else (27.8 times per game).
It’s a winning game plan that has been highly effective, and again on Friday they had just 35% of possession against the Crusaders, completed 33 kicks in open play, and were forced to make 126 tackles to 54. Yet the Highlanders came away with a 34-26 bonus-point win.
It again proved how defence can win matches, particularly when it serves to create turnover opportunities that the Highlanders are so good at converting into points. Flanker Elliot Dixon emerged as the standout performer on defence, making 15 tackles and missing none, while centre Malakai Fekitoa contributed with nine tackles and no misses.
However, it was midfield partner Matt Faddes who was brilliant with ball in hand, scoring two tries, making 114m, beating six defenders and executing three clean breaks.
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