Patrick Osborne (49), Ben Smith (39), Malakai Fekitoa (12), Aaron Smith (9)
Lima Sopoaga (17)
Lima Sopoaga (40,14,10)


Patrick Tuipulotu (68), Angus Taavao-Matau (63), Francis Saili (40)
Chris Noakes (69,63,41)

Full Time
Highlanders 29 Blues 21

The Blues attack just inside the Highlanders' half. They're trying desperately to score another point and when the Highlanders stray offside they opt to kick at posts from the resulting penalty. Noakes steps up and has a shot at goal but his effort is off target! That's the final act of the half as the referee's whistle sounds to bring proceedings to a close. The visitors leave with nothing and will be wondering how Noakes missed that kick which wasn't too difficult. But it's the Highlanders' first half effort which sealed the win and they certainly deserve it.

King is pinged for dropping his bind at a scrum inside the Blues'' 22. Noakes puts the penalty into touch on the halfway mark.

Bekhuis takes the ball into contact on the edge of the blues' 22 but he is held up in the tackle by several of the visitors' forwards. When the maul becomes static the Blues are awarded the put-in at the scrum.

The Blues take the ball through the phases with their forwards until Noakes launches a kick upfield. It's a poor effort and Ben Smith gathers easily inside his 22 before drilling the ball into touch close to the halfway mark.

CONVERSION, BLUES, NOAKES! 29-21. Noakes succeeds with another place kick to give the Blues an outside chance of winning this game.

TRY, BLUES, TUIPULOTU! 29-19. ?The Blues launch an attack from deep inside their half and Marshall, Weepu, Peter Saili and Braid are all involved. Braid then offloads to Patrick Tuipulotu, who crashes over the hosts' line!

The Highlanders get a chance to extend their lead, after the Blues' forwards are pinged for a ruck infringement. Sopoaga takes another shot at goal but his kick is wide of the mark.

CONVERSION, BLUES, NOAKES! 29-14. Noakes narrows the gap to 15 points as he succeeds with the easy two-pointer.

TRY, BLUES, TA'AVAO! 29-12. The Blues are awarded a penalty, deep inside the Highlanders' 22 and they play quickly. Angus Ta'avao spots a gap and barges over the whitewash!

Noakes spots a gap and launches a kick upfield. Ben smith gathers just outside his 22 but puts a foot in touch.

There's a big round of applause as Benji Marshall is on as a replacement for Jackson Willison, who was well below par tonight. Marshall goes into full-back while Piutau moves to outside centre. Lets see what the league convert can dish up during this final quarter.

The Blues are giving everything in a bid to get back into this game. Donnelly takes a gap before offloading to Steven Luatua, who is brought to ground, just outside the Highlanders' 22 by Christie.

The Blues string several phases together and are soon inside the Highlanders' 22. The defence holds up well but Sean Treeeby is pinged for being offside at a ruck. Noakes puts the penalty into touch deep inside the Highlanders' 22.

TRY, HIGHLANDERS, OSBORNE! 29-7. The Highlanders attack out wide and Ben Smith offloads to Osborne who scores in the left-hand corner! That's the bonus-point try for the hosts!

Ben Smith launches a bomb close to the halfway line and there's a big collision as Osborne and Piutau compete for the ball. Osborne wins that battle, however but he's hauled in from behind by Halai.

Liam Coltman is penalised for entering a ruck from the side. Noakes puts the ball out five metres inside his half.

CONVERSION, BLUES, NOAKES! 24-7. Noakes makes no mistake with the place-kick to reduce the deficit to 17 points!

TRY, BLUES, SAILI! 24-5. Francis Saili produces a moment of brilliance to give the blues the perfect start to this second half. He chips ahead on the Highlanders' 22-metre line and regathers before burrowing over the try-line despite the attentions of Christie!

Noakes gets the second half started with a deep, hanging kick. Manu gathers and goes down under a hit from Frank Halai on the edge of his 22.

Half Time
Highlanders 24 Blues 0

CONVERSION, HIGHLANDERS, SOPOAGA! 24-0. Sopoaga adds the extras to extend the hosts' lead on the stroke of half-time! The Highlanders deserve that lead as they've made full use of their chances. The Blues have been shocking and will have to show greater enterprise on attack if they want anything from this game. They've been far too static and are playing into the Highlanders' hands.

TRY, HIGHLANDERS, B SMITH! 22-0. The Highlanders attack close to the Blues' try-line before Ben Smith runs onto a flat pass from Aaron Smith and crosses the whitewash!

The Highlanders win the line-out and launch a 40-metre counter attack! Aaron Smith, Gareth Evans and Patrick Osborne are all prominent ball carriers before Sopoaga launches a cross-kick for Richard Buckman to chase. Moala is up to the challenge, hover and calls for a mark close to his corner flag!

Chris king is pinged for not releasing Luke Braid in the tackle. Noakes kicks for touch and puts the ball out on the Highlanders' 22-metre line.

Noakes tries to run out of trouble from inside his 22. He is tackled by Richard Buckman but luckily for the Blues George Moala is there to help Noakes out of a spot of bother.

THe Highlanders attack out wide and look dangerous! The ball comes out to Fekitoa who is stopped in his tracks by a great tackle from Saili!

The Blues are on the attack close to the Highlanders' try-line! This after Charles Piutau makes the initial break. They then set up numerous phases before the hosts are pinned for being offside. Noakes puts the resulting penalty out on the Highlanders' five-metre line.

Liaki Moli holds on to the ball on the ground, close to the halfway mark. Sopoaga kicks for touch and puts the ball out on the Blues' 22-metre line. There's also some concern in the home side's ranks as Brad Thorn leaves the field and is replaced by Josh Bekhuis.

The Blues gain some relief when Nasi Manu is penalised for holding onto the ball on the ground five metres inside his half. Noakes has his second shot at goal but once again it's wide of the mark!

PENALTY, HIGHLANDERS, SOPOAGA! 17-0. Sopoaga adds another three-pointer from the kicking tee after Jackson Willison is pinged for side entry at a ruck.

CONVERSION, HIGHLANDERS, SOPOAGA! 14-0. Sopoaga adds the two-pointer to push the hosts further ahead!

TRY, HIGHLANDERS, FEKITOA! 12-0. Malakai Fekitoa gathers a loose ball just inside his half and sets off on a mazy run! He beats five defenders before scoring under the uprights! What a try!

CONVERSION, HIGHLANDERS, SOPOAGA! 7-0. Sopoaga steps up and calmly lands the place-kick from up against the touchline!

TRY, HIGHLANDERS, A SMITH! 5-0. Aaron Smith charges down a clearance kick from Noakes and regathers the loose ball before crossing over for the opening points of this match!

The Highlanders try a set move where Ben Smith runs onto a pass from Aaron Smith, who initially sells a dummy to the defence. The full-back runs onto the ball at pace but knocks on!

Sopoaga gets his first chance from the kicking tee, after George Moala is penalised for not rolling away after a tackle. Sopoaga's effort has the direction but not the distance.

Chris Noakes has the first shot at goal after Shane Christie is pinged for going off his feet at a ruck. Noakes strikes it well but his effort is wide of the mark.

Kick Off
Lima Sopoaga gets us underway! The ball is claimed by Tom Donnelly just outside his 22. He sets up a ruck before the Blues take the ball through a couple of phases.

The big news from the Blues camp is that high-profile recruit Benji Marshall will make his Super Rugby debut off the bench. Marshall will cover the fly-half and full-back positions while Chris Noakes is preferred to start in the number 10 jersey. Another key selection is at loosehead prop where Ofa Tu'ungafasi will make his first start for the Blues after impressing Blues boss John Kirwan during the pre-season. Veteran Tom Donnelly will play his first game for the Blues against one of his former teams, and he is joined in the locking department by Liaki Moli who has risen to the challenge in the absence of the injured Culum Retallick. Despite producing a number of fine performances at centre during the pre-season, George Moala reverts to the wing for Saturday's clash as Kirwan has gone for the experienced combination of Francis Saili and Jackson Willison in the midfield. On the bench, Patrick Tuipulotu and Tevita Li join Marshall as the other players who could make their Super Rugby debuts.

Highlanders' head coach Jamie Joseph has named six players who make their debuts for the Dunedin-based franchise. Kane Hames, Gareth Evans, Shane Christie, Patrick Osborne, Malakai Fekitoa and Richard Buckman will all pull on the Highlanders jersey for the first time and it will also be Super Rugby debuts for Hames, Evans and Fekitoa. In the reserves Ged Robinson, Matias Diaz and Craig Millar will all make their debut if they are required on the pitch and it would also represent Super Rugby debut for Diaz and Millar should they play. Ben Smith captains the side from full-back, with fellow All Black Aaron Smith at scrum-half.

Hello and welcome to the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin for live coverage of this Super Rugby clash between the Highlanders and the Blues. We'll return shortly with team news.

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