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Mission accomplished — in
absolutely emphatic fashion.
The Highlanders put on a clinical
and professional performance to
demolish an utterly woeful Blues
outfit in Eden Park last night,
winning 44-7 after leading 20-0 .
The visiting side was after a four-
try bonus point to put it in the box
seat for a home play-off match and
it did exactly that, scoring seven
tries to one in a display in which it
never gave the Blues a sniff.
The Highlanders made all the
play, were far more dangerous all
over the park, and put pressure on
a Blues team which had about as
much confidence as a fat turkey
heading into Christmas.
It was great to watch as the
Highlanders clinically took apart
the Blues in record-breaking
They scored seven tries to just
one and, if Lima Sopoaga had his
kicking boots on, the team would
have cracked the half-century.
It was simple stuff, just executed
well, and was the result of the
players knowing their roles.
The backs ran hard, the forward
drove low and straight and, when
chances came along, they were
swallowed up with glee. For all that
was good about the Highlanders,
the Blues were nothing short of
One must wonder how some of
the Blues players can have the gall
to pick up their pay cheques.
Their basic skills were well short
of the expected standard and even
a blind man could see the whole
franchise needs a massive makeover.
Best for the Highlanders in an
outstanding team effort was lock
Alex Ainley, loose forwards Dan
Pryor and Elliot Dixon, while, out
the back, the midfield of Shaun
Treeby and Richard Buckman were
good in everything they did.
The Highlanders scored the first
try of the game after 10 minutes
from a rolling maul — something
it has been on the receiving end of
plenty of times this season.
Pryor took the ball at the back of
the lineout and the Highlanders
front eight drove low and hard with
Hardie being the beneficiary of the
good work in front of him.
Sopoaga could not add the extras
in what was a tough night for goal-
That was the last major act of the
game for Hardie, who went down
with a nasty-looking injury to his
chest. He was replaced by Gareth
Evans with just under a quarter of
the game gone.
The Highlanders were then
when prop Josh
Hohneck was yellow-carded for a
shoulder charge in the tackle — a
The Blues though could not make
the most of the resulting penalty
when Ihaia West missed the easy
The home side then dropped the
ball from the 22m drop-out and the
Highlanders swept down the field.
After recycling the ball and
making the defensive line with ease,
second five-eighth Treeby scored a
try to celebrate his 50th game for
Sopoaga could not kick the
conversion but he landed a penalty
shortly afterwards. Then, right on
halftime, Dixon — probably the
most improved player in the side
over the past two seasons — picked
up the ball off the back of the scrum
and charged over to score a try.
The Highlanders then got the
crucial fourth try just after 50
minutes. Dixon ran the ball up
through the middle of the ruck
and then it was moved quickly
down the blindside with big winger
Patrick Osborne going over.
That was the clincher which gave
the side the bonus points.
The tries kept coming — Pryor
going over as the Blues ran out
of numbers and the Highlanders
found plenty of holes all over the
Otago lock Joe Latta then
rumbled over from a rolling maul
while captain Ben Smith scored
the seventh try of the game for the
Highlanders with five minutes left.
In last night ’s other game, the
bottom-placed Western Force
ended their disappointing season
on a high with a 13-11 win over
the Rebels in Melbourne.
Force winger Luke Morahan put
the visitors ahead with a try in the
66th minute. The Rebels hit back
seven minutes later with a try from
Telusa Veainu but Mike Harris
missed the conversion then a last-
minute drop goal attempt.
The Force finished last with just
three wins this season while the
Rebels came 10th after registering
— Otago Daily Times
The Kia O val pitch on which New
Zealand and England contested the
second one-day international could
pass a lie detector test.
It was so full of truth, batsmen could
predict the bounce, pace and carry
to hit through the line and deliver a
763-run aggregate in 96 overs.
New Zealand proved marginally
better than England to win by 13 runs
under the D uckworth-Lewis method
and level the series 1-1
needed meteorological assistance.
Rain struck when England had the
momentum at 345 for seven, needing
54 runs from 37 balls in front of a
packed crowd, generating scenes
reminiscent of ODI cricket in its
New Zealand were nine runs
in front when they left the field;
England needed 34 runs from 13
balls when they returned.
They managed 20 and New Zealand
took two catches, removing pivotal
batsmen Liam Plunkett for 44 and
Adil Rashid for 34. The latter catch
came from a Tim Southee alley-
oop to Trent Boult on the long on
boundary to entertain the fans right
until the end.
If England had succeeded, it would
have been a record chase. Their best
is 306 against Pakistan at Karachi in
Initially it appeared like it was the
visitors’ turn to play Batmen. They
were merciless reaching 398 for five.
The hits rang out as each of the top
order contributed to half-century
partnerships (61, 53, 121 and 72) for
the first four wickets. The fifth and
unbeaten sixth wicket contributed 45
and 46. In summary: no one failed.
The ravenous appetite for runs
showed timing which Dame Alison
Holst would be proud of in bringing
such an innings out of the oven
after conceding 408 for nine at
The pitch was certainly baked. There
would be more chance of getting
seam movement with a tennis ball on
a tar-sealed driveway. The swing gods
also created an air pressure vacuum
meaning the ball’s only movement
was getting dispatched in straight
lines and parabolas for 40 fours and
England were up for the chase.
Unlike Edgbaston, which fizzled
into a 210-run margin, this match
has escalated into a thriller after
captain Eoin Morgan (88 from 47
balls), Alex Hales (54 from 49) and
Jos Buttler (41 from 38) uncoiled
their batting mastery. The result may
arguably come down to the steadiness
of Grant Elliott ’s hands. He was the
cover sweeper who caught Morgan
off Mitchell McClenaghan. Morgan
struck the ball effortlessly and looked
capable of going the distance.
England’s batting inflicted paralysis
on New Zealand. The visitors’
fielding was sound, apart from Ross
Taylor dropping two more catches
(Buttler on 26 and Rashid on seven).
However, the batsmen kept threading
through the field and heaving
through the line to leave a chase of
158 off 20 overs with six wickets in
hand, that was reduced to 90 off 10
with three wickets remaining.
Boult was the best of New Zealand’s
bowlers, taking two for 53 from his
allotment. No other New Zealand
bowler gave away less than 6.77.
Nathan McCullum got a couple of
late wickets to finish with three for
86 from nine.
Captain Brendon McCullum won
the toss and batted, despite the
forecast rain. Who could blame him
after inserting England in the first
match and seeing the consequences
explode around Edgbaston?
New Zealand’s total was.—
their second highest ODI score
behind 402 for two against Ireland at
Aberdeen in 2008.
their best against a test-playing
the most England have conceded
in an ODI, overtaking 387 for five
against India at Rajkot in 2008.
Guptill and McCullum provided a
high octane start to reach 61 in the
eighth over but Kane Williamson (93
from 88 balls) and Taylor (119 not
out from 96) put lead in the team’s
batting petrol. The only thing to
run out of gas were the superlatives.
Guptill, with 50 off 54 balls, was the
only player not to score at better than
a run a ball.
No England bowler conceded less
than 6.66 runs per over. Chris Jordan
equaled Steve Harmison as their
most expensive in an ODI, going for
97 runs at a rate of 10.77 from nine
overs. Harmison bowled out against
Sri Lanka at Headingley in 2006.
Williamson’s innings possessed
characteristic finesse, highlighted
by a series of checked lofted drives
through the offside. His first half-
century in 10 ODI innings set a
platform for the onslaught. However,
his dismissal brought conjecture. The
umpire signaled a full toss no-ball
from Ben Stokes, but it was later
established he was checking with his
television colleague. If Williamson
had treated his trousers in more of
a Steve Urkel fashion he might have
sur vived to bring up his century.
Taylor again showed an attacking
resurgence to his game. His three
hacks into the stand over deep mid-
wicket brought to mind legendary
axeman Sonny Bolstad faced with
The No 4’s 13th ODI century took
him another step closer to Nathan
Astle’s New Zealand ODI record of
He sur vived a couple of dropped
chances, smashing Liam Plunkett
and Ben Stokes through the offside
on nine and 40 respectively but Jason
Roy at point and Joe Root at cover
would have needed rump steak-
reinforced baseball mitts to execute
the takes successfully.
— New Zealand Herald
The Blues have
targeted former All
Blacks captain Tana
Umaga as the key to
helping them out of
their coaching crisis.
in Italy in his role as
assistant coach of New
Zealand at the World
Championship, met with Blues officials
at their Mt Albert headquarters before
he travelled overseas.
The meeting, which led to a job offe r,
was held on a players’ day off, but with
the knowledge of head coach John
Kirwan, whose future is still unclear
despite his team playing their final
match of the season last night.
With the board split between the
Auckland representatives who want
Kirwan’s job to be advertised after a
woeful run of results this year, and
those on Murray Bolton’s investment
arm who want to retain the former All
Black wing, Umaga is looming as the
peacemaker and he is now in a very
The approach to Umaga, seen as a
Super Rugby head coach in waiting but
one who has been happy to bide his
time at ITM Cup level with Counties,
is the proposal chief executive Michael
Redman has been working on but has
been unable to talk about publicly.
Redman could not be reached for
If Umaga accepts Redman’s offer —
and the longer he waits, the more his
value rises — he is likely to come on
board as the backs coach for a season
before taking over Kirwan’s role as head
coach for 2017 onwards.
It is effectively the role which
Crusaders assistant Tabai Matson turned
down after controversially visiting the
Blues’ headquarters last month.
It is understood that the presentation
in April of Kirwan’s succession plan
regarding Matson helped turn
board members Bolton, Laurie
Margrain and John Morgan
to the struggling coach’s way
of thinking. Before that they
were aligned with Auckland
representatives Brian Wilsher
and Greg Edmonds in wanting
to look for an alternative.
The Umaga plan is likely to
be even more popular and, if
successful, would be a public
relations triumph after a season
of disappointment both on and off the
field. He is seen as a coach with a good
rapport with his players at Counties and
is likely to relate well with a young and
inexperienced Blues backline.
After playing 74 tests, the former All
Blacks midfielder joined French club
Toulon as a player-coach, a role he
continued at Counties on his return to
New Zealand in 2011.
Former Hurricane Umaga also played
a season for the Chiefs on his return and
has had a close relationship with the
Hamilton-based franchise. There was a
feeling he could have pursued a coaching
role there under Dave Rennie, an avenue
which has probably been closed by the
recent appointment of Tasman coach
Three years ago he missed out on the
head coaching job at Munster. He then
committed himself to learning his craft
at Counties, telling the Herald of his
respect for the jump up to Super Rugby
level: “I’m not sure I’m ready for that
level. I’m still making mistakes here and
I’m just fortunate these guys have helped
me through making my mistakes and
have got the results, so I don’t want to be
making those at the next level.
“I want to go up there totally confident
in the ideas I have. I want to make sure
that they ’re sound and have the backing
of being tried and tested,” he said.
Umaga appears ready to go to the next
level now, and with a clear pathway
to the head coach’s role in sight at the
Blues, it could be a tough one for him to
turn down. — NZME
Saturday, June 13, 2015
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TONIGHT overnight min 8
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Saturday, 13 June, 2015
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TOMORROW JUN 14 MONDAY
Rain drenched the West
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by mud slides. Twenty four
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TODAY IN HISTORY
PICTURE: Getty Images
New Zealand’s Ross Taylor hits out while England wicket keeper Jos
Buttler looks on in today’s second one-dayer at The Kia Oval in London.
Black Caps wins
high scoring epic
Highlanders demolish woeful Blues
PICTURE: Getty Images
Highlanders’ Shaun Treeby is tackled during last night ’s game
against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland.
Blues send SOS to Umaga
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