As it happened: Highlanders complete second half comeback to dispose of spirited Rebels in Dunedin

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live updates of this afternoon's Super Rugby contest between the Highlanders and Rebels at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

FT: HIG 43-37 REB

That does it in Dunedin and what a rollercoaster. Highlanders have managed a great second half comeback and Naholo led it. Stunning game from the winger. They'll want to work on their hands a lot after too many errors tonight but they'll be more focused on where they'll be flying out to tomorrow as there's still alot to figure out. Regardless, Mauger's men have got the job done without the big names and that's what mattered this week.

79min: HIG 43-37 REB

REB THREE! Rebels back themselves for a draw of all things and use a penalty in the last minute to give themselves that chance. Strange call.

77min: HIG 43-34 REB

HIG TRY! No doubt this time. Composed pick-and-go work from the forwards gets the job done eventually as Franklin powers his way into the post pad to score. That should be the nail in the coffin.

73min: HIG 36-34 REB

HIG NO TRY! Chaotic couple of minutes. Walden scores in the left corner and the ref awards it. But the TMO steps in and says the last pass to him was forward so it's disallowed. Instead, the Highlanders go back for the advantage they earned after Ruru made a head-high tackle that looked cardable. However, it's ignored so the Highlanders kick for touch and get a lineout 10m from the Rebels line.

70min: HIG 36-34 REB

Rebels try to recompose themselves and keep the ball for 13 phases but they see space to the left and look to strike. However, Naholo makes a great tackle and gets the turnover. Ball can't come out so the Highlanders get a scrum. 15m from their line. Big moment in the game defensively.

67min: HIG 36-34 REB

HIG TRY! Another Highlanders stunner. Rebels clear and McKay gets it on his 22m. Steps inside the chasers and he's off to the races. Goes from his 22m to the Rebels' 22m before he's taken down. But the Highlanders smell blood and relentlessly hit the Rebels line until Pleasants-Tate spies a hole, picks and goes and he's over. What a couple of minutes.

64min: HIG 29-34 REB

HIG TRY! LI STEAMROLLS HIS WAY IN! Amazing display of strength on the left wing as he gets it with 8m to go. Shakes off one before slamming into two more, keeps the legs pumping and rolls to his left to get the ball down in the corner. Sopoaga adds the extras from the sideline. Game on!

62min: HIG 22-34 REB

Highlanders with an attacking chance after the Rebels are penalised for not releasing. The kick finds touch 30m from the Rebels line. Lineout coming up.

59min: HIG 22-34 REB

REB THREE! Highlanders are penalised for an illegal strip in the tackle and Hodge pushes the lead to 12.

56min: HIG 22-31 REB

Li makes a stong run down the left wing but he's wrapped up and swamped by three Rebels. It goes to ground and Li won't release it. Penalty Rebels, and they kick for touch. They'll set a lineout up 35m from the Highlanders' line.

54min: HIG 22-31 REB

REB TRY! Hodge scores under the posts after recover another charge down. Ioane had the ball inside his 22m after the Rebels pinned him in there but he took way too long to line up his clearance. Hodge turns up, charges it down, recovers and scores under the posts.

51min: HIG 22-24 REB

Ruru catches the Highlanders off guard with a run down the blindside. Grubbers one through to the Highlanders' 22m and Ioane recovers it. Rebels are quick to get to him but get penalised for entering the ruck incorrectly.

49min: HIG 22-24 REB

Yikes. Another handling error blows the Highlanders attacking chance. They go down the blindside but Hemmington's pass goes smack into Sopoaga's face and it's a knock on. Rebels scrum in the same spot coming up.

48min: HIG 22-24 REB

Hemopo gets another BIG turnover. Wraps up his opposite with a monster tackle and holds him up. Gets some help and it's called a maul. The ball isn't coming out so the whistle goes and it's a Highlanders scrum just inside the Rebels half. Hemopo is having a stunner tonight.

47min: HIG 22-24 REB

Highlanders did really well to build pressure - made 50m over 13 phases to get into the Rebels half but it goes to waste as Walden pops an inside ball back to Li in the midfield and it's ruled forward. Rebels scrum 35m from their line.

44min: HIG 22-24 REB

After the Rebels earn a penalty at the scrum, they throw it away. They use the penalty to find touch on the Highlanders' 22m but knock it on in the first hit up after that. Highlanders scrum on their 22m.

42min: HIG 22-24 REB

Highlanders get early territory after the Rebels' throw at their lineout isn't straight. Highlanders scrum just inside the Rebels' half.

40min: HIG 22-24 REB

Sopoaga gets us back underway.

HT: HIG 22-24 REB

Topsy-turvy first 40 in the books. Highlanders have been their biggest enemies so far. Uncharacteristic handling errors and a question kick from Walden has seen them cough up three tries. On attack though, they're having a classic night at the office. We said pre-game Naholo needed to lead and he's had a stellar first half. Can he give them more of the same to earn the win in the second half? We'll be back soon to answer that.

40min: HIG 22-24 REB

HIG TRY! That's a beauty! Highlanders work it to the left as they get inside the 22m. They come back to Sopoaga in the midfield and he floats a cross kick to Naholo on the right wing. Naholo gathers, throws it back infield to Lentjes, Lentjes gives it to Walden and he's in in the right corner. What a beauty. Sopoaga's conversion is off the right post.

38min: HIG 17-24 REB

Highlanders with one last chance before halftime after the Rebels make a rare error kicking the ball dead. It comes all the way back for a Highlanders' scrum 40m out from the Rebels line.

36min: HIG 17-24 REB

REB TRY! Walden just set one up for the Highlanders but he's given a freebie back to the Rebels. Walden goes for low-driven kick but it's read by Hodge and he charges it down with ease. Recovers it on the first bounce 40m out and sprints away to score under the posts.

34min: HIG 17-17 REB

HIG TRY! Walden sells a massive dummy to his right and he's in the backfield. It's a one-on-one but he's got Hammington in support. Draws and passes to his halfback and Hammington runs it 15 to score under the post. Great try. All tied up.

31min: HIG 10-17 REB

Rebels get pinned down in their 22m so Maddux steps up to clear it. Finds touch and hands the Highlanders a lineout just inside the Rebels' half.

28min: HIG 10-17 REB

HIG TRY! Highlanders finally work some magic and Naholo is in. Massive counterruck by Hemopo leads to a turnover on the Highlanders' 22m and they have numbers to the right. Draw and pass until Naholo is in space down the right wing with 60m of clear field in front of him - no one touches him on his way to the corner.

24min: HIG 3-17 REB

Another knock on in the middle of the field stops the Highlanders attack off the lineout. Rebels turn it into a counterattack down the left wing and Naholo makes a try-saving intercept while chasing on his 22m. Gets taken into touch. Rebels lineout coming up.

23min: HIG 3-17 REB

REB YELLOW! Sopoaga steps to his right off the scrum as Ruru flies in to tackle him. Ruru's misread Sopoaga's step and puts a foot out to trip him up. Ref goes up stairs to confirm it looks deliberate and gets it so Ruru gets a 10 min breather. Highlanders use the penalty to find touch inside the Rebels half.

22min: HIG 3-17 REB

Li puts a big hit in and the Rebels try to recover. They recycle it but knock it on in the process. Highlanders scrum 35m out.

20min: HIG 3-17 REB

And the Rebels keep applying pressure. Go to a high kick after the kickoff and Sopoaga can't bring it in. Knocks it on and gives the Rebels a scrum just inside the Highlanders' half.

19min: HIG 3-17 REB

REB TRY! Rebels find numbers on the left wing and they're over with Hodge in the corner. 

16min: HIG 3-10 REB

Highlanders lose the ball off the top and Rebels catch them offguard with a grubber through. Highlanders recover but the backline isn't set so the ball is popped to Frizell. He looks like he wasn't expecting it and knocks it on. Rebels scrum 35m out. Highlanders already have four handling errors today to the Rebels one.

15min: HIG 3-10 REB

Highlanders work a nice set piece off the backline and it puts Li in space down the left wing. He bolts down into the Rebels 22m before he's taken down, Naholo recycles quickly but gets tackled. Rebels turn it over and kick for touch. Highlanders lineout just inside Rebels half.

12min: HIG 3-10 REB

Rebels earn a penalty on halfway as the Highlanders are caught offside again and they take a quick tap. It doesn't work out for them though as in the ensuing tackle the ball is lost. Highlanders scrum, just inside their half.

10min: HIG 3-10 REB

REB TRY! The risk pays off. Simple drive from the maul and the Rebels are in.

8min: HIG 3-3 REB

Interesting. Rebels scrum earns a penalty in a kickable position but the Rebels kick for touch. 5m lineout coming up. First big defensive task for the Highlanders.

7min: HIG 3-3 REB

Highlanders back under pressure after the kickoff as the Rebels earn a scrum. Highlanders got held up after kickoff and the ball wasn't coming out. Rebels scrum will be just outside the Highlanders' 22m.

6min: HIG 3-3 REB

HIG THREE! Highlanders respond almost immediately after Squire makes a barnstorming kick return. Bulldozes through two over halfway and is finally brought down 40m from the Rebels line. Highlanders get the Rebels off guard with a kick to the corner and recover 5m out. Rebels are all over the ball and get penalised. Highlanders play it safe and go to Sopoaga's boot to even things up.

3min: HIG 0-3 REB

REB THREE! Rebels convert their early opportunity into points after the Highlanders are penalised for being offside.  Hodge slots it from 20m out with ease.

1min: HIG 0-0 REB

Highlanders immediately under pressure after Hemmington's box kick goes sky high but only 5-10m forward. Rebels recover it and have the ball on the Highlanders' 22m.


And the Rebels get us underway in Dunedin.

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


While the Highlanders are guaranteed a spot in the Super Rugby playoffs regardless of today's result, seeding between sixth and eighth - and more importantly, the dreaded team that will have to head to South Africa - are yet to be decided.

The Rebels are right in the mix of all the chaos, currently sitting two places behind the Highlanders in eighth with a win in Dunedin guaranteeing them a spot in the playoffs.

So expect fireworks despite the home team's approach.

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger has rested most of the big names in his team, with Ben Smith, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock and an in-form Rob Thompson all getting the week off, meaning other regulars, such as Waisake Naholo, Lima Sopoaga and Liam Squire will have to offer more in the leadership department this week.

With the changes, Wellington youngster Thomas Umaga-Jenson earns his first Super Rugby cap in a starting jersey, slotting in at No.13 while Tevita Li returns on the wing.

Josh Ioane has been handed fullback while Kayne Hammington takes over at halfback.

In the forwards, new All Blacks Jackson Hemopo and Shannon Frizell earn starts while James Lentjes captains the team from the openside flank. Liam Squire takes over things at the back of the scrum.

The last time the two sides faced off was last season, where the Highlanders claimed a 51-12 win in Dunedin.


Highlanders: 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Liam Squire, 7 James Lentjes (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jackson Hemopo, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seuili

Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Dillon Hunt, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Matt Faddes, 23 Josh McKay

Rebels: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English (c), 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Fereti Sa’aga

Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Lopeti Timani

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