Chiefs smash Reds off the park to seal bonus point win in Brisbane

Relive all of the action from the Chiefs' 36-12 victory over the Reds from Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

FULLTIME: Chiefs 36 Reds 12

TRY!!! The Chiefs looking to attack quickly in the final minutes, in search of a bonus point try. They win a penalty and will have a lineout on the Reds' 22.

The siren goes in the background as Taukei'aho's throw evades everyone. The referee stops play after a nasty collision between Sam Cane and George Smith, the Reds will have a scrum feed inside their own half.

Kerevi again hits the line at pace before being tackled. The Reds also looking for a bonus point try, they've got the advantage too before the ref brings play back. The Reds will have a lineout well after fulltime.

The throw has too much on it and the Chiefs have the ball back. Messam is bought down out on the right wing as the referee has the arm out again. McKenzie kicks over the top before we go back for the penalty. McKenzie kicks for the corner as the Chiefs have another lineout,

The throw is good and the Chiefs drive. Taukei'aho with ball in hand as the forwards drive all the way to the line and they've scored! 

Marty McKenzie with the final kick of the match, but he's pushed it away to the left to bring this match to a close.

76 mins: Chiefs 31 Reds 12

TRY!! The Reds score again and it's Kerevi doing all the damage at the moment. He slips through two defenders - including Retallick - before sprinting towards the tryline, crossing over for his second of the match.

Lance lines up the kick, but he's hit the upright! A good effort from Kerevi, but probably too little too late for the Reds here.

73 mins: Chiefs 31 Reds 7

The Chiefs starting to get sloppy in defence at the moment. They give away another penalty for hands in the ruck, the Reds take the lineout.

67 mins: Chiefs 31 Reds 7

Kerevi making things happen for the Reds at the moment. Another strong carry from the Reds' midfielder sees his side earn a penalty, this time against Liam Messam for offside. They go for the lineout and Lance puts the kick right into the corner.

The Reds use a classic training ground move from the lineout, with Rona finding Timu with the number eight scoring up against the upright. Or has he? The TMO interjects as it looks like Timu's lost the ball in the grounding. 

He has lost it, the Chiefs get lucky there. No try the decision.

59 mins: Chiefs 31 Reds 7

The Reds go close again, only George Smith knocks the ball on after some great work from Kerevi. The Chiefs will have a scrum to get play restarted.

52 mins: Chiefs 31 Reds 7

Johnny Fa'auli has absolutely smashed Caleb Timu! The Reds' number eight is down getting treatment, as the referee checks upstairs for possible foul play. Absolutely nothing wrong with that tackle whatsoever, and the TMO confirms it. Mega hit from Fa'auli!

48 mins: Chiefs 31 Reds 7

TRY!! The Reds have a lineout on the Chiefs' 5m line and they drive! Their camped on the Chiefs line - with the forwards looking to work their way over. Lucas makes the call to feed the backs, and finds Kerevi, who charges over from inside the pocket to score. The Reds are on the board in the second spell.

Lance lines up the kick from the left touchline, and he's got it! Brilliant kick.

44 mins: Chiefs 31 Reds 0

TRY!! Error from the Chiefs straight after the break and the Reds will have a scrum. Lucas clears the ball from the back of the scrum to get his side out of danger.

The Chiefs on the attack straight away from the restart. Marty McKenzie finds Alaimalo out on the left who beats his man and draws in the last defender, before getting the ball away to Polwart of all people who goes over on the left wing to score!

Marty McKenzie does brilliantly with the conversion to push the Chiefs' lead out even further.

41 mins: Chiefs 24 Reds 0

Marty McKenzie gets the second half underway at Suncorp.

HALFTIME: Chiefs 24 Reds 0

The Reds try and force an opening before halftime before losing the ball. The Chiefs give possession straight back though and the Reds will have one last chance to grab some points before the break. They go wide to Toua who finds some space, before looking for Daugunu out wide, unfortunately his pass goes to no one, into touch to bring the first half to a close.

34 mins: Chiefs 24 Reds 0

Possible try for the Chiefs! Sam Cane puts Ardron through before the big lock tries to fire a pass back inside to Polwart. The hooker then looks for Tahuriorangi who scores, but the referee wants to check a possible forward pass.

Replays show that it was forward from Ardron to Polwart. Another one ruled out for the Chiefs.

30 mins: Chiefs 24 Reds 0

TRY!! The Chiefs charge the Reds' line from the back of the scrum. Tahuriorangi goes and wins the advantage, next thing Brodie Retallick picks and goes and barges over for a try!

Marty McKenzie lines up his first kick of the night - and it's good!

28 mins: Chiefs 17 Reds 0

The Chiefs again work the ball upfield from the back of a scrum. Cane makes a break before being tackled and the Chiefs have to regroup, Fa'auli fires a loose pass and gives away possession. The Reds look to counter now, Lance kicks downfield to Ngatai. 

The Chiefs come once more, with Alaimalo making a burst down the wing. Ngatai kicks for the corner, but Rodda is the only one there. Fa'auli comes out of nowhere and wins the penalty as the Reds' lock doesn't release the ball. Chiefs scrum.

24 mins: Chiefs 17 Reds 0

Bad news, Damian McKenzie has failed a concussion test. His brother Marty takes his place at first-five.

18 mins: Chiefs 17 Reds 0

TRY!! This time the Chiefs go over though! The Chiefs turn the ball over from the Reds' scrum, with Tahuriorangi finding Retallick, who finds McKenzie. The first-five wraps around, before beating the last man to get the pass away to Ngatai who scores! Great play from McKenzie!

McKenzie adds the extras without any trouble.

15 mins: Chiefs 10 Reds 0

That is brilliant from the Chiefs! McKenzie breaks through the Reds' line after a quick one two with Fa'auli, before firing wide to Alaimalo who races away to score. Or has he? The ref wants to check the grounding. Oh no, he's just let go of the ball before planting it. Reds scrum.

13 mins: Chiefs 10 Reds 0

TRY!! The Reds look to respond right away. Wainui is smashed by Taniela Tupou (aka the Tongan Thor). The Chiefs look to move the ball wide, McKenzie has a burst down the flank before finding Polwart, before getting a penalty. The Chiefs take the lineout.

They look to move the ball, Tahuriorangi finds Boshier just in front of the posts and he crashes over from close range! First try of the night and it's the Chiefs who get it.

McKenzie has no problem with the kick from right in front.

7 mins: Chiefs 3 Reds 0

Penalty! The Chiefs have a shot at goal after an early infringement from the Reds. McKenzie lines up the shot from the 40m line and he's nailed it to put the Chiefs in front early on.

5 mins: Chiefs 0 Reds 0

Tahuriorangi feeds the scrum and Sowakula runs off the back. The ball goes back to McKenzie who kicks over the top for the Reds to try and counter. The Chiefs' defence is firm though, with the ball going back to Toua who clears the danger for the Reds. Chiefs lineout.

3 mins: Chiefs 0 Reds 0

The Chiefs with the first lineout of the match, and Polwart's throw is good. the Chiefs go wide to Alaimalo who goes down in the tackle. McKenzie tries to step his way through before being brought down. Ngatai has a run at the line but loses the ball in the tackle. 

The Reds make the most of their advantage, before Slipper loses the ball forward. Scrum for the Chiefs.

KICK OFF: Chiefs 0 Reds 0

We're away in Brisbane! Jono Lance kicks deep into Chiefs territory to get the ball rolling.

9:40pm

Both sides back in the sheds for their final preparations, kick off not far away in Brisbane.

PRE MATCH

Looking to bounce back from a loss to the Hurricanes in their last match, the Chiefs travel to Brisbane against a Reds side second from bottom in the Australian Conference.

The Chiefs' record against the Reds in recent time makes for good reading for the Kiwi side, with a 120-25 points aggregate in favour of the New Zealanders.

To make things worse for the Reds, their 13 tries scored this season is the lowest by any side in the 2018 campaign.

TEAMS:

Chiefs: 15. Charlie Ngatai (c), 14. Sean Wainui, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 12. Johnny Fa'auli, 11. Solomon Alaimalo, 10. Damian McKenzie, 9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8. Pita Gus Sowakula, 7. Sam Cane (c), 6. Lachlan Boshier, 5. Tyler Ardron, 4. Brodie Retallick, 3. Angus Ta'avao, 2. Liam Polwart, 1. Karl Tu'Inukuafe.

Reserves: 16. Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17. Sam Prattley, 18. Jeff Thwaites, 19. Luke Jacobson, 20. Liam Messam, 21. Brad Weber, 22. Marty McKenzie, 23. Alex Nankivell.

Reds: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Filipo Daugunu, 13. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12. Samu Kerevi, 11. Izaia Perese, 10. Jono Lance, 9. Ben Lucas, 8. Caleb Timu, 7. Liam Wright, 6. Angus Scott-Young, 5. Kane Douglas, 4. Izack Rodda, 3. Taniela Tupou, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1. James Slipper (c).

Reserves: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. JP Smith, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Harry Hockings, 20. George Smith, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Hamish Stewart, 23. Jordan Petaia


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Ruthless Crusaders seal comfortable win over gutsy Sunwolves

Relive all of the action from the Crusaders' emphatic 33-11 victory over the Sunwolves at AMI Stadium, Christchurch.

FULLTIME: Crusaders 33 Sunwolves 11

TRY!! The Crusaders have one last chance as Romano works the ball wide to Crotty, who finds Bridge back inside. Bridge draws in the last defender before getting the pass away to Jack Stratton - who races away to score on debut as the final siren goes!

Hunt lines up the kick, and he's got it! That'll be it for tonight as the Crusaders seal a 33-11 win.

78 mins: Crusaders 26 Sunwolves 11

The Sunwolves penalised for not rolling away after over 20 phases from the Crusaders. Delany kicks for the lineout as the Crusaders look to pile on some more points, before Mitch Hunt comes on as a sub.

Makalio throws and the Crusaders drive. They work their way up towards the posts, but Samu's lost the ball forward. The referee wants to check upstairs for a high tackle from Moore on Hunt. No arms in the tackle, Hunt finds touch and the Crusaders will have a lineout right on the 5m line.

71 mins: Crusaders 26 Sunwolves 11

Scott Barrett penalised for not releasing at the breakdown and the Sunwolves this time take the lineout. They look to get the ball upfield and the Crusaders having to scramble in defence. Parker tries a kick through but it's messy and Tupou somehow ends up with it. The ball goes back inside to Moore, who spills it as the Crusaders' defence holds.

66 mins: Crusaders 26 Sunwolves 11

The Sunwolves go close after Tupou claims a high kick, but Tamanivalu gets back to save a certain try before the Crusaders turn the ball over to get out of trouble!

63 mins: Crusaders 26 Sunwolves 11

TRY!! The Crusaders on a roll now! Crotty finds Mataele out wide, who has a run down the wing but is tackled. From the back of the ruck, Drummond finds Bateman, who gets the ball back inside to Mataele again, and this time he's away to score! 

Delany with the kick from out wide, and he's missed his first of the night.

57 mins: Crusaders 21 Sunwolves 11

TRY!! The Crusaders win another penalty from the back of a scrum and Delany kicks for the corner. Another penalty advantage from the lineout and Delany tries a kick through that doesn't come off. The Crusaders take another lineout right on the 5m line.

Scott Barrett spills the ball and the Sunwolves look to attack now. They kick the ball straight up into the breeze abd tge Crusaders will have another opportunity to attack. They get through 12 phases before the ball goes back to Crotty - who just runs straight up the middle to score the simplest of tries! His second of the night.

Delany again has no trouble with the kick.

50 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 11

Penalty! The Sunwolves win another penalty from the scrum, this one right in front of the posts - and again they'll take the three.

Parker nails it and now the gap is just three points!

47 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 8

The Sunwolves go wide from the scrum and Litle has a burst at the line. The Crusaders' defence holds up for now. Samauki runs at the line before being tackled, Tanaka tries to get the ball free, but he's lost it! Golden opportunity blown for the Sunwolves!

44 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 8

Strange wins the ball from the kick off and the Crusaders look to hit back immediately. The Crusaders work the ball upfield, before Himeno wins it back. They look to kick but it falls straight to Bridge.

Bridge finds Dagg who kicks, but can only find Parker who returns fire - but Delany's spilled it! Everyone chases back but Bridge gets there first - the Sunwolves manage to tackle him in goal to force a 5m scrum. Great start here from the Sunwolves.

42 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 8

Penalty! And straight away the Crusaders infringe at the breakdown. The Sunwolves waste no time in opting to take the three. Parker lines up the kick and he's got it!

The Crusaders' lead cut to six points in the second half.

41 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 5

Both sides back out for the second half. The rain has eased, if not stopped, ahead of the second spell. Parker kicks off to get the game back underway.

HALFTIME: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 5

The Sunwolves lose the ball forward as the siren goes in the background. That'll be halftime. The Sunwolves have done well after going behind in the very first minute, but the Crusaders will be kicking themselves after a number of missed opportunities. We'll be back soon for the second half.

40 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 5

The Crusaders knock the ball on at the lineout and again the Sunwolves look to clear, before going back to the scrum. The Crusaders are penalised at the scrum to give the Sunwolves a free kick.

Crusaders lineout, Makalio throws to the front but the Sunwolves force the ball into touch.

38 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 5

Another break for the Crusaders! This time it's Mataele, who sprints down his wing before getting the ball back inside to Delany. The first five is tackled but pops the ball back up to Perry, who's lost it, but is appealing for a penalty. 

The Crusaders have a lineout after the Sunwovles clear, before the visitors win another penalty and a lineout of their own. Parker looks to clear but the ball's not out. The Crusaders win a another penalty, and kick for the corner.

34 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 5

Strange steals the lineout throw for the Crusaders and again the home side attack. Drummond is taken out off the ball to win another penalty for the Crusaders.

Barrett claims the lineout throw and against the Crusaders look for the drive. Drummond gets the ball to Mataele who's tackled, Crotty has a go now but he knocks it on, the referee has the arm out.

Parker looks for the kick over the top, but play is called back for the knock on.

30 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 5

Delany puts a kick through and the ball sits up beautifully! Tupou gets back to cover, but is immediately met by Bateman and Blackadder! The duo force the Sunwolves fullback into grounding the ball to win a scrum!

Drummond feeds and they drive but the Sunwolves give away another penalty, great pressure from the Crusaders' pack here! Drummon feeds again, this time Sanders looks for the pick and go. Barrett has a crack at the line before being tackled. The Crusaders right in front of the posts now as Todd has a go, he's tackled. Blackadder has a turn but Labuschagne wins a penalty for the Sunwolves, great defence!

25 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 5

Scrum for the Crusaders just in front of their own 22, and they've won the penalty! Delany kicks downfield for the lineout. The Sunwolves win the throw but they're scrambling back with the ball.

The Crusaders turn it over and look to put the pressure on. Delany puts a kick through for Dagg, but there's too much on it as the ball rolls into touch.

18 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 5

The Sunwolves break through again! Parker finds a gap and is away, before firing a pass back inside to Lafaele. The centre is tackled but the Sunwolves look to go wide again, Little looks for a kick through but Israel Dagg is there to tidy up. He's tackled and loses the ball, but the referee stops play for a possible yellow card offence from the Sunwolves.

Dagg was dumped in the tackle by Labuschange, but there's no way this should be anything more than a penalty. It's now hailing in Christchurch too! The Crusaders will have a lineout to get things back underway.

15 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 5

TRY!! The Sunwolves on attack now as Moore goes close, great speed from Tanaka to get the ball out but the Crusaders hold firm. The ref has the arm out for a Sunwolves advantage. They spin the ball out wide, Parker has a run at the line before getting the ball out to Little who scores! Sunwolves on the board now as the second five crosses over!

Parker with the kick - he hasn't missed a shot all season - but he has now! Crusaders ahead by nine.

Elsewhere, Ben Funnell has gone off injured, Andrew Makalio replaces him in the front row.

9 mins: Crusaders 14 Sunwolves 0

TRY!! Scrum for the Sunwolves now, but the Crusaders have only gone and won it - and guess who? It's Owen Franks proving his class in the front row. The Crusaders take the lineout option. Funnell throws and the Crusaders drive and they score! Matt Todd the scorer this time and it's all too easy for the home side at the moment.

Delany with the kick from the other wing this time, and he's got this one too!

5 mins: Crusaders 7 Sunwolves 0

The Crusaders with the ball just inside their own half. Bateman's pass is intercepted but the Sunwolves knock it on to give the Crusaders possession back. First chance for the returning Owen Franks at the scrum now.

1 min: Crusaders 7 Sunwolves 0

TRY!! The Sunwolves try to find touch, but the ball's not gone out and George Bridge counters! The Crusaders have the advantage and Mike Delany slices through! He fires a pass wide to Ryan Crotty who goes over to score in the very first minute! What a start from the Crusaders!!!

Delany with the kick from out wide, and he's nailed it!

KICK OFF: Crusaders 0 Sunwolves 0

We're away! Mike Delany kicks off to get this match underway in Christchurch.

7:36pm

Both sides observe a moment of silence for Canterbury legend Fergie McCormick, who passed away recently.

7:30pm

Matt Todd leads the Crusaders out on their home turf, before Pieter Labuschagne does the same for the visitors. Both sides will observe a tribute ahead of Anzac Day this week.

7:25pm

Good evening! Both sides have finished their warm ups, back in the sheds ahead of tonight's match. Kick off not too far away!

PRE MATCH

Having returned from a largely successful trip to South Africa and Argentina, the Crusaders are back in action against a Sunwovles side struggling for confidence.

After a gutsy loss to the Blues last week, the Japanese side's plight in Christchurch won't be made any easier, with the likes of Israel Dagg and Owen Franks named to start for the first time this season.

A win tonight would see the Crusaders keep pressure on the Hurricanes and the Highlanders, with the 2017 Champions looking to solidify their chances of back-to-back titles.

For the Sunwolves, all eyes will surely be on fan favourite and former Highlanders star Fumi Tanaka, given the nod to start at halfback against his old rivals.

TEAMS:

Crusaders: 15. George Bridge, 14. Israel Dagg, 13. Tim Bateman, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Manasa Mataele, 10. Mike Delany, 9. Mitchell Drummond, 8. Tom Sanders, 7. Matt Todd (c), 6. Ethan Blackadder, 5. Quinten Strange, 4. Scott Barrett, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Ben Funnell, 1. Tim Perry.

Substitutes: 16. Andrew Makalio, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Chris King, 19. Luke Romano, 20. Pete Samu, 21. Jack Stratton, 22. Mitchell Hunt, 23. Seta Tamanivalu.

Sunwolves: 15. William Tupou, 14. Hosea Saumaki, 13. Timothy Lafaele, 12. Michael Little, 11. Kenki Fukuoka, 10. Hayden Parker, 9. Fumiaki Tanaka, 8. Kazuki Himeno, 7. Pieter Lappies Labuschagne (c), 6. Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5. Grant Hattingh, 4. James Moore, 3. Jiwon Koo, 2. Jaba Bregvadze, 1. Craig Millar.

Substitutes: 16. Yusuke Niwai, 17. Shintaro Ishihara, 18. Takuma Asahara, 19. Sam Wykes, 20. Edward Quirk, 21. Yutaka Nagare, 22. Ryoto Nakamura, 23. Semisi Masirewa.


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As it happened: Blues lose 15th consecutive game to NZ opposition as Highlanders run rampant at Eden Park

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live updates of tonight's round 10 Super Rugby match between the Blues and Highlanders at Eden Park in Auckland.

FT: BLU 16-34 HIG

Full time hooter goes and the Blues lose their 15th consecutive game to an NZ side. Despite all the ball and more territory, the one-dimensional play of running straight at the Highlanders defence came undone and the Highlanders showed them how to convert in pressure situations. Standout performances from Thompson, Sopoaga and Li, not to mention Frizell's hat-trick. It's back to the drawing board for the Blues but a big result for the Highlanders as they keep in contention in the NZ conference. That's all from us. Thanks for joining us. Ka kite ano!

77min: BLU 16-34 HIG

The Blues knock the ball on 10m out and make matters worse with a penalty for not releasing after the Highlanders clear it. Highlanders kick for touch and get a lineout just inside the Blues' half for it. Time ticking down now.

74min: BLU 16-34 HIG

Blues with another chance here after the Highlanders knock it on off the lineout. Blues scrum 15m out from the Highlanders line.

73min: BLU 16-34 HIG

Blues make a break down the right wing off the kick off thanks to offloads by Rieko and Duffie but Sopoaga comes up with a try-saver into touch. Highlanders lineout just inside their 22m.

72min: BLU 16-34 HIG

BLU TRY! The Blues are in in the left corner. Akira runs it off the scrum, it's recycled quickly and gets to the unmarked man on the left wing. Easy try but there's a too little, too late tag attached to it. 

69min: BLU 11-34 HIG

BIG chance for the Blues with a 5m scrum. Its come thanks to grubber getting through the Highlanders on halfway and despite Sopoaga getting back in time to recover, he's pressured by the chasers and passes it forward in the process.

68min: BLU 11-34 HIG

The Highlanders knock it on after running off the lineout but the Blues falter off the scrum with the clearance kick inside their 22m coming off the boot and it just escapes the 22m. But there's another error from the Highlanders and the Blues get it back. Things getting sloppy here. Blues with the ball on their 40m.

65min: BLU 11-34 HIG

The Blues go nowhere after eight phases but Rieko Ioane makes a break finally! He goes to ground 30m out and the Blues try to clear it quickly but there's a knock on. Sopoaga responds with a low driven kick and the chasers are there to put the pressure on. It's come off the Blues as it goes into touch! Highlanders get the lineout 30m out from the Blues' line now.

63min: BLU 11-34 HIG 

Rare error from Sopoaga tonight as his kick rolls dead in the Blues' in-goal. We'll come all the way back for a Blues scrum on the Highlanders' 40m. 

61min: BLU 11-34 HIG

And it's knocked on by the Blues. Another chance to get back into this game and score their first points of the second half goes missing. Highlanders with a scrum just inside their 22m.

60min: BLU 11-34 HIG

Blues get a second chance after blowing their first. They got a penalty after recovering the kickoff and kick for touch. The 5m lineout is a disaster as the throw goes over the top and Sopoaga scoops it up. The Highlanders try to run it instead of clearing and there's a knock on. Blues scrum on the Highlanders' 22m coming up.

58min: BLU 11-34 HIG

HIG TRY! FRIZELL HAS A HAT-TRICK! Highlanders run it back at the Blues after the clearance kick and they earn a penalty on the 22m for offside. The Highlanders take it quick and go to the left. Ben Smith goes back inside to Frizell and he storms through the line to score from 10m out. 

56min: BLU 11-27 HIG

Highlanders run it into the Blues' 22m but there's another unneeded offload and it leads to a knock on. Blues get a scrum inside their 22m as a result.

53min: BLU 11-27 HIG

The Blues find some space after trading kicks with the Highlanders and the Ioane brothers combine on the left wing to get inside the Highlanders half! Akira goes down 30m out. It's recycled quickly and goes to the right but an offload goes loose and they kill the ball at the breakdown after the Highlanders recover it. Highlanders kick for touch and get a lineout on the Blues' 40m.

50min: BLU 11-27 HIG

The Blues go to the left from the scrum and they try a skip pass to Ioane on the wing... and it sails into touch. Massive moment there. To make it worse, the Highlanders earn a penalty off their 5m lineout for offside. So now the Highlanders have a lineout on halfway.

48min: BLU 11-27 HIG

Blues with a big chance to counter as they earn a penalty on the Highlanders' 5m. They go to the scrum with it. Highlanders failed to clear well and the Blues get strong territory off it. They rumble into the Highlanders' 22m and there's a penalty for plaiyng at the ball in the ruck. Blues tap quickly and earn that second penalty 5m out for offside. Blues need to convert here...

45min: BLU 11-27 HIG

HIG TRY! What a try! Offloads galore! Blues clear and Li runs it back brilliantly and breaks through two tackles. He goes to ground 30m out. Highlanders pick and go twice to the Blues' 22m. They go the left and Papali'i gets an offload to Li, Li offloads to Hammington and the halfback is in in the left corner! Great try and it's sure to stun the Blues.

43min: BLU 11-20 HIG

Blues get the first attacking chance of the half after turning the ball over at the ruck 40m out. Slow, steady rugby once again as they hold it for nine phases but a big tackle from Frizell sees the ball go lose and the Highlanders recover to clear. Li's kick floats and just finds touch. Blues lineout just outside their 22m.

40min: BLU 11-20 HIG

Back underway and Gatland gets things going.

HT: BLU 11-20 HIG

That's 40 minutes in the books and that's a funny old half. Blues look in massive trouble at the start, then take control of the game for 20 minutes before the Highlanders finished strong.

Thompson and Sopoaga are having masterful games for the visitors conducting the backline without Aaron Smith's voice there to do it. Gatland's boot has been on-song for the Blues and Rieko Ioane has been as destructive as ever.

Despite the lack of ball and territory the Highlanders have converted on the rare chances they've had and head into the sheds deserving leaders. We'll be back soon for an exciting second half.

38min: BLU 11-20 HIG

HIG THREE! The Highlanders again use the width to their advantage and get good metres off the kick off. The shift it back to the right and Naholo is brought down 30m out. Pryor goes at the ball illegally and the whistle goes. Sopoaga slots this one right down the middle.

35min: BLU 11-17 HIG

HIG TRY! The Highlanders convert at the other end! The Highlanders retain the ball on halfway off the lineout and go to the right. Thompson sells a massive dummy and gets into space before he's brought down on the Blues 22m. The Highlanders shift it back to the left and that's some fancy hadnwork from the forward pack who draw and pass to Frizell on the left wing and he touches down in the corner. Sopoaga can't add the extras.

32min: BLU 11-12 HIG

The Highlanders get out of jail for free! The Blues get a scrum on the Highlanders' 40m after a knock on from the dropout and the backline set piece puts Perofeta in space! He's brought down 15m out. The Blues come back to the right and Rieko Ioane busts through two before he's brought down 5m short. The Blues pick and go twice. Akira looks to go and he knocks it on! Highlanders recover and clear for touch. Big chance goes to waste there.

29min: BLU 11-12 HIG

The Highlanders pack earns a penalty after the Blues front row collapse. They decide oddly enough to go for three from around 48m out and Sopoaga misses to the right! Blues 22m dropout coming up.

27min: BLU 11-12 HIG

There's a stoppage as Tokolahi is taken off field - nasty collision saw his knee in an awkward spot and he's been carried off. Little bit of rain coming in now too.

26min: BLU 11-12 HIG

Blues clear off the scrum and the Highlanders counter attack. Li makes a run down the left wing and he's brought down 40m out. The Blues turn it over and try to go back to the middle of the field but it's knocked on so we'll set down for a Highlanders scrum on halfway.

24min: BLU 11-12 HIG

HIG NO TRY! Heads up! The Highlanders attack to the left off the scrum and it's a bullet pass... straight into Rob Thompson's head! It flies off his noggin and sails into the Blues' in-goal and Walden is there to score! The ref goes upstairs and replays show the initial pass was forward so they come back for a Blues scrum inside their 22m.

23min: BLU 11-12 HIG

And now pressure is on the Blues after Perofeta errors off the kickoff. Highlanders with a scrum inside the Blues' 22m in the middle of the field coming up.

22min: BLU 11-12 HIG

BLU THREE! The Blues convert on the pressure they've built once again! The Highlanders look to clear off the lineout but the kick doesn't go into touch so they run it back! It's set up 30m out and after six phases of play Dixon is penalised for playing at the ball. Right in front, Gatland slots it. Great fight back from the Blues.

19min: BLU 8-12 HIG

Pressure goes on the Highlanders after a superb kick through by Gatland and it rolls into touch inside the 5m. Highlanders lineout coming up deep in their territory.

18min: BLU 8-12 HIG

Fun fact. The Highlanders have made 46 tackles so far tonight. The Blues have only made four in 18 minutes of play.

17min: BLU 8-12 HIG

Blues once again building steadily after the kick off but this time it's on their 40m line. They go for 8 phases but it's going no where so their clear. Highlanders kick it back and the Blues begin another slow attack. They roll over halfway thanks to another small break by Rieko Ioane before he offloads. It goes to ground and the ball becomes unplayable. Blues scrum on the Highlanders' 40m.

14min: BLU 8-12 HIG

BLU THREE! Blues carve into the lead with a penalty goal. Highlanders lose the ball at the back of the maul off their lineout and the Blues counterattack immediately! They shift it wide to the left wing. Ioane gets some space, he cuts inside Naholo and goes to ground. It's an illegal entry by Smith at the ruck 30m out and the whistle goes. Gatland converts.

11min: BLU 5-12 HIG

Blues survive a scare after Sopoaga puts a bomb up from half way and Smith flies to apply the pressure. The ball is loose. Bodies are diving all over the place but the Highlanders knock it on! Blues recover inside their 22m and Gatland clears. Highlanders lineout from 40m out coming up.

8min: BLU 5-12 HIG

BLU TRY! The Blues reply almost instantly! The Highlanders were on the back foot after kickoff after they knocked the ball on and the Blues played good patient rugby building phases. They pick and go from 5m out on the right wing. Pick and go again and Ruru is over the line! Did he get it down? TMO says yes! Wild start to this one folks!

5min: BLU 0-12 HIG

HIG TRY! Too easy. Five phases hitting it hard and the Highlanders are in under the posts.

4min: BLU 0-5 HIG

The Highlanders have their tails up! The Blues knock the ball on and the Highladners counterattack immediately with Naholo. It's chipped over the top and recovered by the Highlanders on the Blues' 22m. PENALTY! Blues enter the ruck immediately and the Highlanders aren't going for three. They kick for the 5m lineout and are hunting for more!

2min: BLU 0-5 HIG

HIG TRY! 42 seconds and the Highlanders are in! It's a nightmare start. The ball went to ground off the kick off and pinned The Blues in their 22m. They then tried to get it wide to the left wing but that pass goes to ground too and they're 10m off their own line. Gatland shifts to the pocket, ball comes to him and it's charged down by Hunt! He recovers, he scores! What a start!

7:36pm: KICKOFF

The Highlanders won the toss and elected to kick off. We're underway at Eden Park!

7:30pm

Kick off will be slightly later tonight with the teams paying their respects ahead of ANZAC day. Poppies are on the team jackets as both squads exit the tunnels. We'll also hear the Last Post.

Buck Shelford reads "The Ode" - nice touch.

7:25pm: WEATHER

It's a clear night in Auckland. There's been no wet weather today either so there's no excuses for poor ball handling. It's currently 17 degrees and there is minimal wind to speak of too.

Waisake Naholo makes a break during the Highlanders v Blues, Super Rugby week 2 game held at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand. 23 February 2018. Copyright Image: Derek Morrison / www.photosport.nz
Waisake Naholo in action for the Highlanders against the Blues. Source: Photosport

7:15pm: PREVIEW

The Blues are effectively looking to keep their season alive at Eden Park tonight, but they'll be relying heavily on an inexperienced outfit to get the job done thanks to a long injury list.

Recent form is against the home side however, after they suffered a 41-34 loss to the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium earlier this year - the Highlanders have also won nine of the last twelve outings between the two Kiwi sides.

However, one thing going for the Blues is the Highlanders struggles away from the south with the Dunedin-based team yet to pick up a win on the road this season thanks to losses against the Hurricanes and Chiefs.

The Blues are looking to use the game as a foundation for a strong finish to the season with tonight's match kick-starting a run of six games from seven at Eden Park - a streak coach Tana Umaga says the team is fully aware of.

"We have been mostly on the road with a tough two-game trip to South Africa and now a trip to Japan with a short turn around," he said.

"But we are home at Eden Park in front of our fans and our families for the next few games. We want to make this our fortress in the coming weeks.

"All of the clubs have injuries and we are no different. But it gives opportunities for other players to stand up and bring some real enthusiasm to our team.

"We have improved over the last two weeks and once again we have to step up again to another level in every facet of our game. Our record against other New Zealand teams is well documented so we want to make our homecoming a special one."

The Blues have had to make several changes to their line-up from last week's starting XV but the one of note is the return of Rieko Ioane on the wing.

The young speedster faces off against fellow All Black Waisake Naholo in a powerful match-up.

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger has made two changes to his line up - the biggest being Aaron Smith shifting to the bench to make way for Kayne Hammington.

TEAMS

BLU: 1. Pauliasi Manu, 2. James Parsons (captain), 3. Ofa Tu'ungafasi/Mike Tamoaieta, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu, 5. Jimmy Tupou, 6. Dalton Papali'i, 7. Kara Pryor, 8. Akira Ioane, 9. Jonathan Ruru, 10. Bryn Gatland, 11. Rieko Ioane, 12. TJ Faiane, 13. Orbyn Leger, 14. Jordan Hyland, 15. Stephen Perofeta

BLU Subs: 16. Matt Moulds/Leni Apisai, 17. Ross Wright, 18. Mike Tamoaieta/Sione Mafileo, 19. Ben Neenee, 20. Murphy Taramai, 21. Sam Nock, 22. Tumua Manu, 23. Matt Duffie

HIG: 1. Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2. Ash Dixon (captain), 3. Siate Tokolahi, 4. Jackson Hemopo, 5. Tom Franklin, 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Dillon Hunt, 8. Luke Whitelock, 9. Kayne Hammington, 10. Lima Sopoaga, 11. Tevita Li, 12. Teihorangi Walden, 13. Rob Thompson, 14. Waisake Naholo, 15. Ben Smith (captain)

HIG Subs: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Aki Seiuli, 18. Tyrel Lomax, 19. Alex Ainley, 20. Elliot Dixon, 21. Aaron Smith, 22. Fletcher Smith, 23. Matt Faddes