The Highlanders have named the main group of 2022 to play the Crusaders in Weston on Friday. In evident pre-season design, the Highlanders have named a 33-man group in what will be the first in-game an open door for players to challenge for a spot to play in cycle one of Super Rugby Pacific against the Chiefs.
Highlanders v Crusaders – 4pm, Friday 4th February, Weston Park
— Highlanders (@Highlanders) February 4, 2022
Three vital participants are getting back from injury to take the field on Friday with one being Folau Fakatava. Fakatava’s 2021 season cut was off after he experienced a knee injury following some amazing structure in the beginning phases of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Thomas Umaga-Jensen and Fetuli Paea will likewise take the field subsequent to burning through 2021 as an afterthought lines recuperating from shoulder and lower leg wounds separately.
Highlanders lead trainer, Tony Brown, is anticipating seeing Fakatava, Umaga-Jensen and Paea return to the field.
The Highlanders rang the changes for the second 40 minutes, but the performance of their top liners in the opening half will give them some confidence as they wait for the news on Paea.
Highlanders 20 (Moses Dawai, Liam Coltman tries, Mitch Hunt 2 cons, pen, Marty Banks pen) Crusaders 19 (Dallas McLeod, Simon Hickey tries, penalty try, Fergus Burke con) HT: 17-7
Hunt opened the scoring after 13 minutes with a penalty, which was a fair reflection of the early play.
The Highlanders then constructed an excellent play to new winger Mosese Dawai after 25 minutes.
After the forwards had done the hard work up front, hooker Liam Coltman pulled a nice pass back to the deep lying Hunt, who fed Gilbert.
The Canterbury product then drew Kini Naholo nicely and fed Dawai for a run to the corner. Hunt nailed the conversion from a tough angle to make it 10-0.
Dallas MacLeod burst through some unconvincing midfield defence shortly afterwards to make it 10-7, but the Highlanders continued to show their first-half superiority with a well-executed maul try.
Coltman was the beneficiary, muscling over after his pack got one over their younger rivals, and Hunt again converted from a wide angle.