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Chiefs defeat Highlanders in golden point thriller

Relive 1 NEWS' live updates of this evening's Super Rugby Aotearoa game between the Highlanders and the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Damian McKenzie kicks the golden point penalty against the Highlanders. Source: Photosport

FT: HIG 23-26 CHI

What a finish in Dunedin! Our first extra time game of the season is won by the Chiefs after a back-and-forward contest. The visiting side seemed likely to take the victory after pushing the lead to ten points in the second half, but the Highlanders fought back to extend the game into the extra period.

It was nearly a perfect redemption for Josh Ioane, who scored a try and a penalty late in regular time to tie the score and had the chance to win the game with a drop goal, but shanked it wide.

Instead, it was Damian McKenzie who took the glory, nailing a long-range penalty to secure a well-needed victory for the Chiefs. They usurp the Highlanders for third position on the table, now just two points behind the Blues.

85min: HIG 23-26 CHI

CHI PEN!! Lienert-Brown wins a crucial penalty just on the Highlanders side of halfway. McKenzie now has the chance to clinch the game. The distance is good and so is the accuracy!!! McKenzie wins the game for the Chiefs by golden point!

84min: HIG 23-23 CHI

The Highlanders have the ball in deep in the 22m. Ioane is back in the pocket and Smith finds him, but Ioane has scuffed it wide! A big opportunity goes begging.

80min: EXTRA TIME KICKOFF

The Highlanders kick off the extra time period.

80min: HIG 23-23 CHI

The Highlanders have been penalised again on the halfway line and McKenzie has the chance to win it again. But it's wide of the left post and we're going to golden point!

79min: HIG 23-23 CHI

The Chiefs set up for the drop goal, McKenzie receives it in the pocket and has a shot, but it's wide right!

77min: HIG 23-23 CHI

HIG PEN!! The Highlanders are metres from the line, Jacobson gets his hands on the ball, but he's come off his feet and is penalised! Ioane takes the points dead in front and the chance of golden point is on!

70min: HIG 20-23 CHI

HIG TRY!! The Highlanders have a lineout in the right corner. They go to the maul and fall just short. Smith finds Ioane and he dives over! Redemption for Josh Ioane after a fortnight he'd like to forget! He converts his own try and we're in for an exciting finish here.

61min: HIG 13-23 CHI

CHI TRY!! Lienert-Brown breaks the line off an extremely dubious pass from McKenzie, offloads to Weber who is taken down within five metres of the line. A couple of phases pass before Ta'avao breaks through the line and slides over. No challenges remaining for either team and it appears the refs didn't spot the forward pass so it's awarded. McKenzie converts. 

56min: HIG 13-16 CHI

CHI PEN!! Hunt brings down the ball from an up-and-under and is thrown to the ground by Stevenson. Lowe gets over the ball to win another penalty for the Chiefs. McKenzie is lining it up again, this one tougher, from the right wing, around 30m out. He's on target again and the Chiefs edge ahead again.

54min: HIG 13-13 CHI

HIG PEN!! Brown gives away another penalty to give Hunt another chance at goal - can he finally kick one tonight? It's around 35m out from just outside the right post. It comes around and it's over! So it's all squared up again.

50min: HIG 10-13 CHI

The Chiefs are inching close to the line and Lienert-Brown is stopped just short of the line. But Johnstone wins the penalty in the ruck and the Highlanders escape!

45min: HIG 10-13 CHI

CHI PEN!! The Chiefs win the penalty for the Highlanders advancing in front of the kick. It's in a great position, around 30m out and just outside the right post. McKenzie's found his range now and he knocks over another to give the lead back to the Chiefs.

42min: HIG 10-10 CHI

HIG TRY!! The Highlanders move the ball to the right on the edge of the Chiefs 22m and it finds Frizell running a brilliant line straight through the defensive line! He finds Smith in support on his inside and the All Black halfback dives over to tie it up. But Hunt can't convert again - he's 0/4 now.

40min: HIG 5-10 CHI

The Chiefs kick off and we're back underway for the second half.

HT: HIG 5-10 CHI

So the Chiefs take the lead into the break, but safe to say it's still anyone's game at this point. The goal kicking from both sides has been mediocre at best, and there has been a real lack of strong attacking play. A lot of that is down to the amount of penalties being given away, which has led to a stop-start first half. Hopefully that changes in the second and we can get some more running rugby.

Nothing confirmed yet, but Quinn Tupaea's night appears to be over as he limped off with an apparent knee injury. The physio was checking for a potential ACL tear. Let's hope it's nothing serious as he has been a real find for the Waikato franchise this season.

40min: HIG 5-10 CHI

CHI PEN!! The Highlanders only need to keep possession for a minute before the siren, but are unable to do so as Lienert-Brown comes in over the top of the ruck and gets his hands on the ball to win the penalty for the Chiefs. McKenzie lines it up again to extend the lead at the break, and this time it's on target.

38min: HIG 5-7 CHI

Gregory is penalised for a high tackle and the Chiefs have a late chance here in the dying stages of the half. But it's sloppy in the ruck and Parkinson wins the penalty for the home side. It could be an important moment. 

35min: HIG 5-7 CHI

The Highlanders are pinged again almost immediately. This one is a lot easier for McKenzie, around 30m out and right in front. But the little weapon has missed despite striking it well.

33min: HIG 5-7 CHI

The Chiefs win the penalty on the halfway line and McKenzie surprisingly points to the posts. This is a long kick for the little fullback. He has the distance but it drifts to the right. The Highlanders drop out from the 22m.

30min: HIG 5-7 CHI

The Highlanders string plenty of phases together in the midfield without gaining a whole heap of ground. Vaa'i wins the penalty for the Chiefs on the edge of their own 22m, and play heads in the other direction.

21min: HIG 5-7 CHI

The Highlanders win another penalty, Brown penalised for continuing to advance. The Highlanders point to the posts to try and go in front. Hunt lines it up from the right side of the field around 30m out, and misses again. Oh dear.

17min: HIG 5-7 CHI

The Chiefs string about ten phases together and Lienert-Brown touches down for a try, but in an odd move, referee Ben O'Keefe deletes the last two minutes of action to check whether an up-and-under on the halfway line was knocked on by McKenzie. And it was, so forget what just happened.

9min: HIG 5-7 CHI

HIG TRY!! Ah Kuoi gives away the penalty and Hunt kicks it into the corner to give the Highlanders their first chance at the line. They pull off a wonderful fake maul, Lentjes comes off the back and goes blind side, catching the Chiefs completely off guard. Weber tries to catch him but it's too late, as Lentjes touches down! Hunt can't convert though.

6min: HIG 0-7 CHI

CHI TRY!! Tomkinson gives away a penalty and allows the Chiefs to move within the Highlanders 22m. There's some strange, sloppy offloads between Tupaea, Weber and Nanai-Seturo on the left wing, yet the winger has touched down with a bit of acrobatic brilliance in the corner. We go upstairs just to check the ball hasn't gone forward at any point, but it's fine. Try awarded! McKenzie nails the tough kick and the Chiefs take the early lead.

2min: HIG 0-0 CHI

The Highlanders win an early penalty and point to the posts. It's around 40m out but right in front. Hunt skews it to the left though, so we remain scoreless.

7.05pm: KICKOFF

Mitch Hunt gets us underway, taken by Lienert-Brown.

6.30pm: PREVIEW

The Highlanders return to Dunedin a resurgent force following their massive upset victory over the Crusaders last weekend.

Their bad boys are back too, after being dropped from the side for breaking team code a week prior.

Head coach Tony Brown has made several changes to his side to face the Chiefs tonight. In the forwards, Josh Hohneck rotates with Siate Tokolahi and James Lentjes with Billy Harmon. Kazuki Himeno maintains his spot at number eight after an energetic performance against the Crusaders. The evergreen, Bryn Evans, will lock the scrum with Pari Pari Parkinson and Hugh Renton will again be the sixth forward on the reserves bench.

In the backs, Aaron Smith will co-captain the side and his back up at halfback will be Kayne Hammington who replaces the unlucky Folau Fakatava. Scott Gregory, who had a solid performance on the wing last week, will move to the midfield to replace the injured Thomas Umaga-Jensen and he will be partnered by Patelesio Tomkinson at centre. Ngatugnane Punivai is over his hamstring issue and takes his place on the right wing and Josh Ioane returns to the reserves.

The Chiefs return fresh from their bye week and in form themselves, having defeated the Blues at the death in their last game.

Sam Cane misses out through injury and will be replaced by Kaylum Boshier, while Kaleb Trask will again combine with Brad Weber in the halves. Quinn Tupaea and Anton Lienert-Brown will light up the midfield, while electrifying wingers Etene Nanai-Seturo and Jonah Lowe return from injury to start respectively on the left and right wings.

Tupou Vaa'i returns to start alongside Naitoa Ah Kuoi, while Mitchell Brown starts at six and will celebrate his 50th Super Rugby game.
 

TEAMS

Highlanders: 15 Connor Garden-Bachop, 14 Ngatungane Punivai, 13 Patelesio Tomkinson, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Paripari Parkinson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ethan De Groot.

Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Billy Harmon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Hugh Renton.

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Jonah Lowe, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Kaleb Trask, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Kaylum Boshier, 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Tupou Vaa'i, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei'aho, 1 Aidan Ross.

Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Joe Apikotoa, 19 Samipeni Finau, 20 Pita Gus Sowakula, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Alex Nankivell, 23 Shaun Stevenson.