A 79th minute try from Folau Fakatava has given the Highlanders a 35-30 win over the Queensland Reds.
Brad Thorn’s team started strong with one of the tries of the year finished off by Jake Upfield.
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The Highlanders struggled again in the contest when two second half tries gave them a late lead.
Young playmaker Tom Lynagh looked to have won it for the Reds with a long-range penalty goal.
However, in Aaron Smith’s last game in Dunedin, it was his heir who devised the special move, scoring in the corner to steal the win.
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80′: Folau Fakatava launches to seal the game for the locals Highlanders 35-30
78′: Reds defending their line but Highlanders take out the scrum at 20 meters
76′: The hosts roll down the field but cough it up
74′: Lynagh puts the Reds back in front Reds 30-28
71′: Fraser McReight speeds past but Freddie Burns passes the ball over the ball.
69′: Connor Garden-Bachop stretches out his hand to put the hosts ahead Highlanders 28-27
65′: Mitch Hunt goes down the line but the Reds tie it on touch
63′: Boost with the hosts now that Nareki finds space but can’t recover his kick
60′: Saula Ma’u shoots to reduce the margin Reds 27-21
57′: Lynagh adds three more while the visitors continue to add pressure on the scoreboard Reds 27-14
53′: The visitors continue to put pressure on the Highlanders’ line, thrown into touch from 10 meters away
45′: Tom Lynagh extends the lead after a great defensive scrum from Zane Nonggorr Reds 24-14
42′: The Reds look to press their advantage but can’t make the lineout hold
HALFTIME: REDS 21 – 14 HIGHLANDERS
40′: Suliasi Vunivalu eases through the Highlanders’ line Reds 21-14
37′: Peni Ravai looks for the line but the locals stop him
33′: The Reds deny an automatic three and go for the try but the Highlanders hold on and force the error
26′: Hugh Renton emerges himself from the bottom of the scrum and stretches 14-all
18′: The Reds pick up the restart and attack the Highlanders’ line, stopped by a desperate shot from Freddie Burns
17′: Nareki cannot be stopped minutes later from the lineout Reds 14-7
14′: The Highlanders look for an answer but a great tackle from Tate McDermott stops Jona Nareki
11′: The Reds produce some magic when Harry Wilson breaks through from his own goal line, with replacement Jake Upfield finishing off a great team try Reds 14-0
7′: The visitors plow through the Highlanders and co-captain Liam Wright dives, appearing to injure himself in the process. Reds 7-0
1′: Reds start fast when Suli Vunivalu breaks the line but can’t find Josh Floook on the inside
LATE TRADE: Highlanders center Thomas Umaga-Jensen is out, replaced by Matt Whaanga. For the Reds, Seru Uru goes down, Lopeti Faifua enters the bench
TRY: Wright, Upfield, Vunivalu
CONS: Lynagh 3/3
FEATHERS: Lynagh 3/3
TEST: Nareki, Renton, Ma’u, Garden-Bachop, Fakatava
CONS: Gilbert 4/4, Burns 1/1
HIGHLANDERS (1-15): Ethan de Groot, Andrew Makalio, Jermaine Ainsley, Pari Pari Parkinson, Max Hicks, Shannon Frizell, Billy Harmon (c), Hugh Renton, Aaron Smith, Freddie Burns, Jona Nareki, Sam Gilbert, Matt Whaanga, Jonah Lowe, Mitch Hunt
BOOKINGS: Rhys Marshall, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Saula Ma’u, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Sean Withy, Folau Fakatava, Connor Garden-Bachop, Scott Gregory
REDS (1-15): Peni Ravai, Matt Faessler, Zane Nonggorr, Angus Blyth, Connor Vest, Liam Wright (co-c), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott (co-c), Tom Lynagh, Mac Grealy, James O’Connor, Josh Flook , Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell
BOOKINGS: Richie Asiata, Dane Zander, Sef Fa’agase, Jake Upfield, Lopeti Faifua, Kalani Thomas, Lawson Creighton, Hunter Paisami
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey Marcus Playle
The Highlanders’ clash with the Reds will be broadcast LIVE on Stan Sport.
Coverage will be live and ad-free on Stan Sport, scheduled to begin at 5:05 p.m. and expected to begin at 4:30 p.m.