Braces for Dawai, Marshall help Highlanders claim first win

April 8, 2022

The Highlanders' forwards stocks have taken a hit in their first Super Rugby Pacific win.

It took seven attempts but the Highlanders are finally on the board this season with a 37-17 win over Moana Pasifika in Dunedin.

The victory did not come without casualties.

Playing in his 50th game for the Highlanders, loose forward Gareth Evans was named to start on the bench but was in the action early when he replaced Shannon Frizell who was injured from the kickoff.

Winger Mosese Dawai scored the home side's opening try in the third minute after getting on the end of a pinpoint pass from first five-eighth Mitch Hunt.

Mosese Dawai dives in to score his first try against Moana Pasifika.

The Highlanders' early lead did not last long, as Moana Pasifika followed a penalty kick with a converted try for Levi Aumua to edge ahead 10-7.

Tasman lock Max Hicks made his Highlanders debut in the 26th minute after Manaaki Selby-Rickit also left the field with a knee injury.

Hooker Andrew Makalio restored the Highlanders' lead when he drove over from a lineout for the team's second try.

Moana Pasifika's struggles with discipline continued with the visitors reduced to 14 men when Veikoso Polonaiti was yellow carded just before the break.

The Highlanders took advantage of their extra man and Dawai crossed for his second try on the stroke of half-time to take a 17-10 lead into the lockeroom.

It took 12 minutes for the Highlanders to extend their lead when substitute Rhys Marshall latched onto the back of a lineout drive and scored.

Moana Pasifika scored their second try when Christian Leali'ifano put Tima Fainga'nuku in space to keep in touch with the Highlanders despite their high penalty count.

The visitors had a second player - Alamanda Motuga - yellow carded for off side infringements with 14 minutes remaining in the game.

Two minutes later, replacement halfback Folau Fakatava snuck off the back of a driving maul to dot down for the Highlanders' fifth try.

The Highlanders' sixth try came from Marshall again capitalising on a lineout drive.

Had Hunt been more accurate off the tee - he only converted two of the six tries - the Highlanders could have extended the winning scoreline.

However, Moana Pasifika were their own worst enemy racking up a 16-5 penalty count against them with ill-discipline continuing to cost them each week.

Moana Pasifika have a short turnaround with another game against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Tuesday.


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