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.

KICKOFF

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

PREVIEW

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.

TEAMS

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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Average Joe to Olympian: How NZR's new initiative paves a path for sevens triallists to Tokyo Games

New Zealand Rugby says the new initiative it has launched today could see some undiscovered Kiwi talent head to the Tokyo Olympics as part of the World Champion All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens squads.

The Ignite Sevens was announced today which will see New Zealanders under the age of 23 able to trial for spots in the two sides.

NZR head of high performance Mike Anthony says the programme was designed to "encourage talented athletes from all sporting codes, regardless of rugby experience, to come forward and have a go at sevens".

"Our national Sevens teams compete at the highest level on the world stage and we want to be sure we are casting the net as wide as possible and tapping into the huge reservoir of athletic talent that exists across New Zealand."

Coming from a touch and hockey background Grace Steinmetz admits she is still getting used to contact. Source: 1 NEWS

People registered their interest earlier this year before NZR's high performance sevens coaches and trainers selected 96 players (48 men and 48 women) who will assemble in Auckland from 21 November to 24 November for a training camp and tournament.

The selected athletes will have their strength, speed, skill and agility measured before three days of training to start the camp.

Then, on the final day, players will be divided into four teams to play against each other in the inaugural Ignite7 tournament with three men and women selected by scouts to attend national development camps next year.

"The selected six players will be training alongside the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens in the New Year," Anthony said.

"It’s a massive opportunity that will give these players access to the full benefits of NZR’s high performance system and it effectively opens the door for selection into our two national Sevens teams."

After that, the chosen six can become full-fledged Sevens players in time for the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan much like how Black Ferns Sevens players Michaela Blyde and Portia Woodman did in 2016 after a similar programme.

High performance manager Tony Philp says the Ignite 7s could be a big break for untapped Kiwi talent. Source: 1 NEWS


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'I will be joining an elite Test team' - John Mitchell confirmed as new England defence coach

Former New Zealand head coach John Mitchell will be joining Eddie Jones' staff as England's defence coach until the end of next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Mitchell will leave his role of Executive of Rugby for South African Super Rugby side the Bulls and join up with former Wallabies boss Jones this month to help prepare for their upcoming run of internationals, including a clash against Australia on November 24 at Twickenham.

The 54-year-old replaces Paul Gustard, who took over as head coach of English premiership side Harlequins this season.

"This is an exciting opportunity to work with England Rugby and support Eddie Jones as head coach," Mitchell said.

"I will be joining an elite high-performance programme, test team and coaching group where I will use all my experience and focus to bring the necessary clarity and confidence to the players from a defensive perspective."

England's defence has come under intense scrutiny after a poor run of form in 2018 that has included five defeats in eight internationals.

Three of those losses came in the Six Nations as the defending champions finished a dismal fifth, and criticism has mounted in the wake of their 2-1 series defeat in South Africa.

The hope is that Mitchell's experience will aid an upturn in form. The New Zealander previously served as forwards coach to Clive Woodward when the latter was in charge of England between 1997 and 2000.

As head coach of the All Blacks, he won 23 of 28 tests and led the team to a third-place finish at the 2003 Rugby World Cup and consecutive Tri-Nations titles.

"Defence is a key pillar of our game and John is an experienced coach," said Australian Jones.

"He's coached the All Blacks, USA Rugby and a number of Super Rugby sides so he will bring a wealth of experience and add to the coaching mix we have here."


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'It's a great opportunity' - Canterbury law student dabbles in new NZ Rugby initiative, Ignite Sevens

Canterbury sevens player Grace Steinmetz only played the game last year in December and is now having a crack at making the national women’s team.

New Zealand Rugby has started a new initiative Ignite 7 which sees 48 female and 48 male athletes take part in a four day event on November 21.

Players will go through a field of testing before playing in a televised one day tournament to earmark new talent.

"Hadn't played rugby or sevens before, so come from a touch and hockey background," said Steinmetz.

The 20-year-old law student hopes to one day wear the Black Ferns women jumper as she tries out her hand in the Ignite 7 tournament.

"It is something I would love to do one day, I think it's a great opportunity for sevens now girls, it's professional and it can be your job now," she said.

"I don't have to worry about my law degree, like I can just go and train and be a professional athlete which is definitely a goal of mine."

Coming from a touch and hockey background Grace Steinmetz admits she is still getting used to contact. Source: 1 NEWS


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Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup tickets to go on sale, All Blacks fans urged to get in quick

All Blacks fans are urged to get in quick if they are to secure seats at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, with officials warning tickets will sell out fast one year out from the tournament.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw holds aloft the William Webb Ellis Cup after winning Rugby World Cup Final. New Zealand All Blacks v Australia Wallabies, Twickenham Stadium, London, England. Saturday 31 October 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw holds aloft the William Webb Ellis Cup after winning Rugby World Cup Final. Source: Photosport

Half a million tickets have already been pre-sold with tickets set to be open for sale to the public at 1pm today (NZ time).

Head of the Rugby World Cup Alan Gilpin believes there will be an "unprecedented demand" for tickets which involves the home team, Japan's Brave Blossoms and the top tier nations.

"All the matches involving Japan, definitely all the matches involving New Zealand... England, Australia are experiencing high demand and we would expect they will be sold out very quickly," said Gilpin.

The All Blacks begin their title defence against the Springboks in Yokohama, the evening after the tournament opener between Japan and Russia in Tokyo on September 20, 2019.

Adult ticket prices are expected to range from ¥10,000 - ¥40,000 (NZD $136-$544) while tickets to the final on November 2 to cost anywhere between ¥25,000 - ¥100,000 (NZD $340-$1361).

"When you bring Rugby World Cup to a place like Japan, you hope that people will get behind it and the demand will be there – and it really has been," said Gilpin.

"It's a fantastic story for the event and a good message of confidence for the organising committee."