Highlanders vs Reds: Super Rugby live scores, blog

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    Highlanders vs Reds

    Super Rugby, 14 July, 2017

    Forsyth Barr Stadium
    Fulltime - Highlanders 40, Reds 17
    Highlanders   Reds
    40 FINAL SCORE 17
    6 TRIES 3
    0 DROP GOALS 0
    Referee: Michael Fraser
    Touch judges: Jamie Nutbrown & James Doleman
    TMO: Aaron Paterson

    It’s the final round of Super Rugby for 2017, and the Queensland Reds will look to their youth in a challenge of the highest order against a fired up Highlanders outfit in an icy-cold Dunedin. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog from 5:35pm AEST.

    It seems a mere formality on paper, and – if you looked at the betting odds – it’s no surprise that the Dunedin-based Highlanders are extremely short favourites to win this match.

    We saw last week some of the intensity and desperation that had been so lacking from the Reds season in their last gasp win over the finals bound Brumbies. Their young guns were immense that night, in particular Duncan Paia’aua and Izaiah Perese.

    Clearly this has rubbed off on Nick Stiles, and the squad he has flown to Dunedin contains no fewer than ten players 21 years or younger.

    When you look at the Reds side on paper, it’s a wonder they haven’t had more success this season. The likes of Quade Cooper, Karmichael Hunt, George Smith, Stephen Moore and Kane Douglas are all very good footballers in their own right; this combined with an exciting blend of youth and talent in the form of players like Campbell Magnay, Izaiah Perese, Hamish Stewart, Taniela Tupou and Reece Hewat – and you can see why rugby fans in the North are more than a little frustrated with their sides lack of success.

    Still, there is plenty to play for. For the young members of the squad still finding their feet at Super Rugby level, there is almost no greater challenge than tackling the star-studded Highlanders in Dunedin. For the veterans? It’s a matter of finishing what has been a disappointing season on a positive note.

    So… The Highlanders.

    They sit seventh overall on the ladder with ten wins, but that is merely a reflection of the strength of the New Zealand sides, who happen to take up four of the top six spots.

    Even though they are resting stars Aaron and Ben Smith for this fixture, the Highlanders’ outfit still oozes experience and talent.

    Reds winger Isaiah Perese will have a tough task containing Waisake Naholo who will still be stinging at his omission from the recent All Blacks tour against the Lions, whilst Tevita Li, Richard Buckman and Lima Sopoaga form half of an extremely enigmatic backline.

    Where the game will be won
    I actually don’t think the Reds’ backline is too bad. If Tuttle’s delivery is sharp from the base of the ruck, and Cooper has a good game, then he has enough in his arsenal of outside backs to score some points.

    Admittedly, Campbell Magnay is mismatched against Malakai Fekitoa, however he was one of the Reds best last week, and will be wanting to finish his Reds career in style before he departs overseas to Japan.

    This game will be won for the Highlanders in the forwards. The Reds front row has been average at best at set piece time, and Stephen Moore looks lethargic and ready for the season to be finished.

    In addition, the pace of the Highlanders back row of Squire, Jantjes and Liam Whitelock could cause serious problems for the significantly slower group of Timu, Smith and Korczyk in and around the fringes.

    It will be close at half time, but expect the Highlanders’ superior class and fitness to wear down a Reds side that will be desperate for a break after a long season. A comfortable win should be a good tune up for a finals-bound Highlanders outfit.

    Highlanders by 28

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