Shannon Frizell scored a brace as the Highlanders edged the Reds 36-31 in Dunedin on Friday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
This game did not want for action. Five tries were scored in the first half alone, with the Highlanders taking a 24-17 lead to the break.
While the Reds troubled the Highlanders at the lineouts, they failed to stop the hosts when they got within sight of the tryline. The Highlanders were clinical on attack and Josh Ioane’s accurate goal-kicking kept the scoreboard ticking over in the first stanza.
The pass that set up a linebreak for Matt Faddes – and ultimately culminated in a Ben Smith try – was blatantly forward. The Reds enjoyed some luck, though, when a forward pass at the other side of the field resulted in a try for Moses Sorovi right before half-time.
The Highlanders managed to fix their lineout and set up yet another try after the break. Shannon Frizell powered over from close range to score his second of the evening.
The Reds hit back with an end-to-end effort. Forwards and backs worked hard to keep the ball alive and Izack Rodda finished to bring his side back into the game.
The visitors started to build some momentum. They moved into the lead after Feao Fotuaika crashed over the line in the 57th minute and Bryce Hegarty slotted the conversion.
It was in the final 20 minutes, though, where the Highlanders enjoyed more territory. They made a series of handling mistakes during this period, but did enough to keep the contest in the Reds’ half.
The Reds defended bravely, but were eventually breached. Dillon Hunt got the touchdown in the 74th minute to regain the lead – and seal the win – for his side.
Highlanders – Tries: Rob Thompson, Shannon Frizell (2), Ben Smith, Dillon Hunt. Conversions: Josh Ioane (4). Penalty: Ioane.
Reds – Tries: Chris Feauai-Sautia, Moses Sorovi, Izack Rodda, Feao Fotuaika. Conversions: Bryce Hegarty (4). Penalty: Hegarty.
Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith (co-c), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock (co-c), 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Matt Faddes.
Reds – 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Samu Kerevi (c), 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Hamish Stewart, 9 Moses Sorovi, 8 Caleb Timu, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakia-Loto, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Feao Fotuaika
Subs: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Harry Hockings, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Isaac Lucas.
Photo: Dianne Manson/Getty Images