As it happened: High-flying Highlanders finish Super Rugby road trip in dominating fashion, hold Force tryless in Perth

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Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live updates of tonight's Round 12 Super Rugby clash between the Force and Highlanders at nib Stadium in Perth.

FT: FOR 6-55 HIG

HIG TRY! Thompson gets his second after the fulltime hooter. The Force try to play it out for some pride but they knock it on and the Highlanders sub pounces. He grubbers it for 25m and dives over the line to touch it down. Sopoaga misses wide but it doesn't matter. Tonight's scoreline is the biggest winning margin by the Highlanders in franchise history, surpassing their 1999 win over the Bulls where the margin was 42.

77min: FOR 6-50 HIG

Time ticking down now and continously faulty scrums are dragging it out. Force currently with the feed on their 40m as both teams really struggle to hold onto the ball now.

74min: FOR 6-50 HIG

Game finally slowing down a bit as both front rows struggling to hold a scrum up in the wet on the halfway. Smith finally gets a clean feed and shifts it to Sopoaga who tries another cross kick but it's knocked on by Banks on the wing. Another scrum pretty much on halfway, just other side of the field.

71min: FOR 6-50 HIG

Force look like they're finally showing some fight but the breakaway by Rangi is spoiled as the Force are penalised for not releasing at the breakdown. Highlanders kick the ball downfield for a lineout 40m out.

66min: FOR 6-50 HIG

HIG TRY! Buckman gets the intercept try! He takes the risk of leaving his man on the wing unmarked and it pays off big time as he comes from nowhere to snag a high pass 40m from the tryline. Force are all running forward so no one is near to touch him and he runs it into the left corner easy.

63min: FOR 6-45 HIG

HIG TRY! Thompson falls a metre short from a double off the bench after a brilliant run. A ball is kicked deep into the Highlanders' half and Thompson weighs up his options before deciding to run it back. He waltzes past two defenders, steps inside another, runs away from another and looks to finish on his own impressively but he's wrapped up so he leaves the ball neatly a metre out for Hunt to grab and finish.

60min: FOR 6-38 HIG

HIG TRY! Thompson is on the field and straight away he's over the chalk. The Highlanders off the lineout set up inside the Force's 22m. They go down the line to Li who steps inside two defenders and draws a third before a neat basketball pass over the top to Thompson sets him up in the corner. Classy skills from Li considering the weather.

57min: FOR 6-31 HIG

HIG NO TRY! Sopoaga is on and his first touch is a beauty. Perfectly weighted cross kick into the corner of the and Li flies up to get it but makes solid collision with Masirewa and neither get the ball clean. Li jumps on the loose ball but replays show he knocked it on in the air.

54min: FOR 6-31 HIG

Sopoaga looks like he's ready to take the field. He's got his jacket off, his mouthguard in and he's jogging up and down the sideline.

51min: FOR 6-31 HIG

HIG TRY! Seiuli nabs his second of the night! The Highlanders turn over a lineout on the Force's 22m and immediately launch a counter attack. The ball goes downthe line as the Highlanders bowl over Force defenders to make the advantage line and suddenly Seiuli is at the back of the ruck and sees a hole in front of him with no one around. He picks it up, shrugs off one in the ruck and runs 5 or so metres to the tryline.

48min: FOR 6-24 HIG

FOR YELLOW! And just to make matters worse, Arnold is off after a no-arms tackle on Banks. Force will go at least a minute with 13 men on the field.

47min: FOR 6-24 HIG

It is POURING down in Perth all of a sudden making a tough night for the Force even tougher.

44min: FOR 6-24 HIG

HIG TRY! Osborne makes up for his mistake emphatically with a runaway try. Easy dummy opens the hole and he runs through it into the backfield. 40m to go and he does it untouched with ease. Banks gets the extras and Osborne is done for the night! 

41min: FOR 6-17 HIG

Terrible start for the Highlanders as the kickoff is knocked on by Osborne - his second drop of a high ball this evening.

HT: FOR 6-17 HIG

The Highlanders run the ball off the back and immediately regret it as it's lost and kicked into touch for halftime. Good opening half for the visitors on the whole though with nine more minutes of 15v14 to come.

39min: FOR 6-17 HIG

FOR YELLOW! Masirewa is in the bin for a deliberate knockdown. It all comes back to a brilliant charge down by Osborne who then chases the loose ball and wraps up Morahan after he recovered it. The Highlanders force the turnover at that breakdown and look to pass but the Force winger slaps it down. Off he goes. Highlanders opt for a scrum 5m out with their last chance before the half.

36min: FOR 6-17 HIG

HIG TRY! Seiuli is in with an intercept try! The big Highlanders prop is on the edge of a breakdown on the Force's 5m after the Highlanders lost the ball at ruck. A wild pass off the back is snatched up by him and he dives in to score. A bizarre but brilliant try for the big fella.

34min: FOR 6-10 HIG

Highlanders still camped inside the Force's 22 as they reset a scrum. The lineout maul was shutdown by the Force but the referee ruled in the Highlanders' favour.

32min: FOR 6-10 HIG

Highlanders with a big attacking opportunity with a lineout 5m off the Force tryline thanks to a penalty for an early tackle.

28min: FOR 6-10 HIG

FOR THREE! Force bring it to within four points with another penalty after collapsing the scrum. The kick goes off the post and in.

25min: FOR 3-10 HIG

The kicking game from the Force finally pays dividends as Osborne drops a high ball on his 40m. Force scrum.

24min: FOR 3-10 HIG

FOR THREE! Hands at the breakdown cost the Highlanders 3 points as they are pinged in the middle of the field 40m out.

22min: FOR 0-10 HIG

Force continue their kicking game but they are losing to a clinical kicking performance by the Highlanders' back three and Banks. Force finally commit to running the ball instead after an 8-kick rally gains them all of 3-4m.

18min: FOR 0-10 HIG

HIG TRY! Tevita Li is in for the Highlanders! Brilliant pace as the forwards hit the Force line in the midfield. It's quickly recycled and sent right to Fekitoa, he puts a little step on to get outside his man before drawing in another defender and the skip pass goes to Li. Li has 15m to go down the sideline and he dives in untouched. Banks gets the extras from touch.

15min: FOR 0-3 HIG

A try for the Force goes begging as Rona makes a brilliant break in the midfield. He runs it into the Highlanders' 22m looking for support and he spies someone on his left but the pass is a shocker and the Highlanders scramble to collect the loose ball. Thumped away. Pressure diverted.

12min: FOR 0-3 HIG

HIG THREE! Highladers make good on their first penalty as Banks slots it over 30m out in front. Great intercept in their own half led to a linebreak which carried the visitors into the Force's half and the ref didn't think all of the Western players got back onside.

9min: FOR 0-0 HIG

The Force get the first chance at points of the night thanks to an offside penalty 4m out to the left but the points go missing as the kick sails wide of the posts.

7min: FOR 0-0 HIG

The Force get a turnover at the breakdown and immediately spring into attack mode. They run the ball from their 10m well into the Highlanders half.

3min: FOR 0-0 HIG

Both teams happy to play the territory game early with the back-three on both sides playing forceback to find a hole.

KICKOFF

The Force gets things underway on a clear night in Perth.

PRE-GAME

Luke Whitelock of the Highlanders runs at the defence during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Rebels

Luke Whitelock of the Highlanders runs at the defence during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Rebels

Source: Photosport

Highlanders coach Tony Brown is adamant tonight's Super Rugby clash against the Force in Perth isn't the mismatch it might appear.

On paper, the Highlanders - fourth in the New Zealand conference with 36 points - should be untroubled in accounting for the Force, who sit fourth in the Australian conference with 13.

But Brown says the Force, coming off a 16-6 win over the Jaguares in Buenos Aires last week, could prove problematic.

"Our team's well aware of the desperation the Force are going to be playing with," he said.

"They're only six points off being first in the Australian conference, and they're playing at home, playing for their lives in this competition.

"The team is well aware of how hard it's going to be."

Coming off tight wins in South Africa over the Cheetahs and Bulls, the Highlanders are on a seven-match winning streak and haven't lost since their 41-15 fourth-round defeat to the Hurricanes.

But a win over the Force would leave them more confident of sneaking into the final top eight ahead of the Durban-based Sharks.

Brown will again be counting on the depth of the Highlanders' bench to see them home.

Test fullback Ben Smith (ankle) and wing Waisake Naholo (suspension) are sidelined, and halfback Aaron Smith will be making his impact from the reserves.

Playmaker Lima Sopoaga also returns from a hamstring injury to the Highlanders' bench for his first Super Rugby match in two months, where he'll be joined by co-captain Ash Dixon.

Brown has every confidence that his squad will step up.

"The leadership the guys are showing, the impact the guys are showing off the bench has got us home.

"We're happy with how we're finishing games and how we're finding that way to win."

TEAMS

Waisake Naholo of the Highlanders makes a break during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Chiefs, held at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand, on 24th February 2017. Credit: Joe Allison / www.photosport.nz

Waisake Naholo of the Highlanders makes a break against the Chiefs.

Source: Photosport

FOR: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes (c), 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Brynard Stander, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Pek Cowan

FOR Reserves: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Lewis Carmichael, 21 Isireli Naisarani, 22 Michael Ruru, 23 James Verity-Amm

HIG: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Elliot Dixon (c), 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

HIG Reserves: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Rob Thompson

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