As it happened: Highlanders secure crucial bonus point win after scoring six tries in first-half frenzy against Waratahs

Relive 1 NEWS Now's live updates of this evening's Super Rugby contest between the Highlanders and Waratahs at Rugby Park in Invercargill.

FT: HIG 49-12 WAR

HIG TRY! Highlanders finish the game on a high as Thompson dives in under the posts. Just slices through a flat (in every sense of the word) Waratahs defence and runs 45 to score. Tip of the hat as Elliot Dixon gets to step up and take the final conversion and he nails it! That wraps up the game.

Not as exciting in the second half but it's certainly enough to give them a crack at the top eight. Kicking game never let the Waratahs into the contest but handling errors from the home side saw their momentum from the first half killed until Thompson created some of his own on the hooter. That'll do it for us tonight. Have a great evening.

78min: HIG 42-12 WAR

It takes a few resets but the scrum finally gets fed. Waratahs win it and kick for touch. Highlanders lineout on the Waratahs' 22m.

76min: HIG 42-12 WAR

Highlanders look to reply after getting down into the Waratahs 22m off the kick off but Ioane's grubber through the line is knocked-on by Walden who is chasing. Waratahs scrum on their 5m.

73min: HIG 42-12 WAR

WAR TRY! Waratahs finally find the line after a frustrating night. They actually lost the ball off their scrum but manage to make the most of a failed kick into touch by the Highlanders. Attack down the left wing and sure enough, they make a few passes stick and score. Too little too late but maybe a way of finishing their season on a high. Highlanders still hold that crucial bonus point though with six tries to two.

70min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Another penalty. Highlanders are penalised for offside. It's in a great spot for a scrum and that's exactly what the Waratahs choose. It'll be about 15m out, in the middle of the field - plenty of attacking options.

68min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Waratahs finally get an attacking chance this half after the Highlanders are penalised for a dangerous tackle. It was a lifting tackle but doesn't go past the horizontal or anything like that so a penalty is all that comes of it. Waratahs kick for touch with the penalty and their lineout is 20m from the Highlanders' line.

65min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Highlanders turn for a handling error as McKay coughs up a long pass. Waratahs scrum 15m from halfway. You get the feeling all the subs have really killed the momentum of tha game - no flow to it whatsoever now and the handling errors from miscommunication are piling up.

63min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Long passage of play as both sides scrap for territory. After trading kicks the Highlanders attack down the left from 40m out but there's a turnover and the Waratahs want to counter-attack. But another knock-on ends that hope so it'll be a Highlanders scrum 40m from the Waratahs line.

59min: HIG 42-7 WAR

The game is stopped as there's an "interuption" on the field. We'll get things going again with a Highlanders scrum, this time 35m from the Waratahs line.

58min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Another handling error from the Waratahs. They got the ball back after a kicking exchange only to cough it up near halfway again. Highlanders feed just inside the Waratahs half.

55min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Smith kicks from the back of the scrum. Waratahs collect it 5m inside their half and try to reply with a kick of their own but it's another woeful hack. Way too deep, bounces dead and we'll come all the way back for a Highlanders scrum 5m inside the Waratahs half.

53min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Waratahs attack comes undone soon after the lineout with a knock on in the midfield. Highlanders scrum just outside their 22m.

52min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Waratahs on the attack now with Coltman penalised for being offside. Kick finds touch and it's a Waratahs lineout on the Highlanders 22m.

51min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Highlanders use their kicking game to great effect once again and pin the Waratahs inside their 22m but the newly-introduced Shannon Frizell is penalised for entering the ruck on the side so some reprieve for the visitors. Kick for touch gets them a lineout around 35m from halfway.

49min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Waratahs try to run off their scrum and make some good metres. But it turns to custard when they get held up in a tackle and a maul is called. The mass of bodies hit the pitch and the ball isn't coming out so it's a Highlanders scrum 15m from halfway.

47min: HIG 42-7 WAR

That's a bizarre one. Franklin gets the ball off a ruck and passes it into the chest of an oncoming Waratahs defender - straight forward, right in front of him. Ref calls for a forward pass and Franklin's arguing something. Regardless, it's a Waratahs scrum on their 22m.

46min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Highlanders' pack earns another penalty at scrum time. Ioane kicks for touch and it'll be their throw in at the lineout just outside the Waratahs' 22m.

44min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Waratahs make the first error of the second half with a knock on shortly after their scrum. That'll give the Highlanders a turn to feed the scrum. There's will be 10m from halfway.

42min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Highlanders look to get back on the attack early as the Waratahs clear off the kickoff but Hemopo's run in the middle of the field sees him get held up. Ball can't get away in the called maul and it's a Waratahs scrum just inside their half.

40min: HIG 42-7 WAR

Elliot Dixon is on in jersey No.23 for James Lentjes. Waratahs still down a man for four minutes as the Highlanders get the second half underway.

HT: HIG 42-7 WAR

Smith doesn't muck around after the kickoff. Thumps it into touch and sends the sides to the sheds.

BRILLIANT first half of footy from the Highlanders in slippery conditions. Their kicking game has kept the Waratahs under the pump and led to errors. Those errors led to penalties. Those penalties led to tries - six of them. One lapse in judgement saw the Waratahs peg one back but with that yellow, all momentum swung back the Highlanders. Mauger shouldn't have much to say at the break other than keep this up. They're definitely gving themselves the best chance to crack playoffs... so far.

We'll be back soon for the second 40!

39min: HIG 42-7 WAR

HIG TRY! It takes 10 phases but sure enough, the Highlanders are in again for try No.6. A great, flat pass from Smith off the ruck three metres out puts Walden in the hole and he scrambles over to score.

37min: HIG 35-7 WAR

It gets worse for the Waratahs. Again, their restart is too deep so it's a Highlanders scrum on halfway. That scrum then gets penalised for skewing so the Highlanders kick for touch and are straight back on the attack on the Waratahs 22m.

35min: HIG 35-7 WAR

HIG PENALTY TRY! The Waratahs attack the maul from the side trying to shove it out and they get a penalty try for it! That also leads to Tom Robertson getting yellow-carded for being the culprit coming in from the side. BIG turn of events after they just breathed life into the contest.

34min: HIG 28-7 WAR

The Highlanders' kicking game again leads to a great attacking chance. Ioane finds space deep in the left corner. It won't bounce into touch and the Waratahs have to recover it but the Highlanders are again there in numbers and look to force a turnover. Waratahs play the ball on the ground and the whistle goes. Forget the three, the Highlanders kick for another 5m lineout.

32min: HIG 28-7 WAR

Waratahs turn for a handling error as they're called for a forward pass on halfway. Highlanders scrum smack-bang in the middle of the pitch.

31min: HIG 28-7 WAR

Waratahs kick deep after the restart and Highlanders hold the ball. Hemopo gets a great offload off to Li who fends off his marker and breaks away down the left wing. He steps back in-field to get away from the touch line but in the ensuing contact loses the ball. Waratahs scrum just inside their half.

28min: HIG 28-7 WAR

WAR TRY! Waratahs show some life! They get a turnover just inside the Highlanders half. Mason sees space way out left and goes for the cross kick. Rona is on it, takes it but gets tackled one-on-one by McKay. He's back to his feet though to recycle it himself and links up with two teammates who go on to score untouched. Highlanders still hold their bonus point but that's a warning from the visitors.

25min: HIG 28-0 WAR

HIG TRY! Naholo's in under the posts. Two phases off the maul the winger is given the pill metres out in the midfield and he barges over. They're on fire right now!

23min: HIG 21-0 WAR

Waratahs on the attack again! After Smith's box kick bounces into the Waratahs' 22m they're under immense pressure at the breakdown from the chasers and it's a penalty for not releasing. There's a free three points on offer but the Highlanders are confident right now. Kick for the corner and it's a 5m lineout.

20min: HIG 21-0 WAR

HIG TRY! It took 19 phases but the Highlanders have their third! It all started from an amazing line break by Liam Squire. Fends off his marker and bursts into the backfield from halfway. finally taken down just inside the Waratahs' 22m and the grind begins. Little by little they make the metres towards the line but the Waratahs seemingly won't budge. That's until phase 19 when Tom Franklin gets it off the ruck 5m out and there's no defenders left to stop him diving over. They're sitting on that crucial bonus point now.

16min: HIG 14-0 WAR

Highlanders turn for a lineout on halfway. They turned the ball over and again look for territory with a kick but it's taken on full inside the 22m with a mark call. Free kick is sent into touch on halfway.

14min: HIG 14-0 WAR

A pair of kicking errors to restart. Waratahs' kick off is too deep so we come back for a Highlanders scrum on halfway but Smith's kick from that scrum goes out on the full so it's back to halfway again for a Waratahs lineout.

11min: HIG 14-0 WAR

HIG TRY! What a start for the Highlanders! They're on the attack after the kickoff with a break down the right wing from Naholo. He goes to ground on the Waratahs 22m. They have numbers out left and Smith sees it. Huge skip pass to Li and he's got work to do 15m out. Fends off his marker and goes in to score. Dream start for the home side.

8min: HIG 7-0 WAR

HIG TRY! Josh McKay with a solo stunner. The fullback reads a kick perfectly and takes it outside his 22m. Spots plenty of space behind the Waratahs and thumps it there and gives chase. No one is back and he's sprinting for the bouncing ball. Waratahs flanker Will Miller is the only one close. He and McKay get to it at the same time 10m from the line. Miller loses it, McKay picks it up and goes on to score. Tough for Miller after a valiant effort. Ioane converts from the left wing.

5min: HIG 0-0 WAR

Highlanders go nowhere for six phases and it leads to a knock on from Smith. Waratahs pounce and kick for territory and it's a lovely punt. Bounces into touch for a Highlanders lineout on their own 22m.

4min: HIG 0-0 WAR

Waratahs set a maul but it can't get rolling so they go to the high ball again. Li underneath and he's hit as he goes airborne so it's a penalty. Highlanders kick for touch with the penalty and find it. At the lineout, the Waratahs are penalised for being offside so the Highlanders kick for touch again. This lineout will be on the Waratahs' 22m. Great attacking spot.

2min: HIG 0-0 WAR

Kicking battle to start things off as both sides look for an early handling error on the dewy surface but both teams are good under the high ball. Highlanders change things up with a kick for touch and bounce it over nicely. Waratahs lineout 15m from halfway.


Waratahs kick things off and we're underway in Invercargill!


Touching moment to kick things off. Liam Coltman takes the field alone for his 100th Highlanders appearance with young daughter Tilly in one hand. Everyone's smiling and the crowd gives him a warm welcome. Great stuff.


Waisake Naholo makes a run against the Waratahs. Source: Photosport

The Highlanders are preparing to go all out in their search for a bonus point win over the Waratahs tonight, hopeful of sealing their spot in this year's Super Rugby finals.

Needing a bonus point victory and other results going their way, the Highlanders are concentrating first and foremost on getting the right result against the Waratahs.

Speaking to media after training on Tuesday, assistant coach Glenn Delaney spoke about his side's preparations for what could be their final match of 2019.

"There's focus right across," he said. "If you want to get the bonus points, it's got to be three tries and above.

"There's both sides of the ball come into that. You want to negate them scoring, and score a few more yourself.

"Our focus and our game plan will be to go out and give ourselves the best chance, and that best chance is to score as many tries as we can.

"You'll see the full tank emptied, everything is going to be on offer."


Highlanders: 1.Ayden Johnstone, 2.Liam Coltman, 3.Tyrel Lomax, 4.Jackson Hemopo, 5.Tom Franklin, 6.Liam Squire, 7.James Lentjes, 8.Luke Whitelock, 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Josh Ioane, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Teihorangi Walden, 13.Rob Thompson, 14.Waisake Naholo, 15.Josh McKay.

Substitutes: 16.Ash Dixon, 17.Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18.Siate Tokolahi, 19.Josh Dickson, 20.Shannon Frizell, 21.Kayne Hammington, 22.Marty Banks, 23.Elliot Dixon.

Waratahs: 1.Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2.Damien Fitzpatrick, 3.Tom Robertson, 4.Ned Hanigan, 5.Tom Staniforth, 6.Hugh Sinclair, 7.Will Miller, 8.Michael Wells, 9.Nick Phipps (captain), 10.Mack Mason, 11.Cam Clark, 12.Lalakai Foketi, 13.Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14.Curtis Rona, 15.Alex Newsome.

Substitutes: 16.Andrew Tuala, 17.Rory O'Connor, 18.Shambeckler Vui, 19.Ryan McCauley, 20.Jed Holloway, 21.Jack Dempsey, 22.Jake Gordon, 23.Tautalatasi Tasi.