By Adrian Seconi
The Highlanders will have an opportunity to climb off the bottom of the standings when they host Moana Pasifika on Friday night.
And boy do they need the points.
They have started the season with six consecutive losses, but have been showing some positive signs in recent weeks.
The 17-14 loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday could have gone either way, and the side produced a quality final 40 minutes in the 32-25 loss to the Blues.
But the Highlanders do not have much to show for their endeavours other than three bonus points.
Moana Pasifika (four points) notched an upset win against the Hurricanes, but it has otherwise had a luckless introduction to Super Rugby Pacific.
The camp was hit by Covid just before the opening round which meant some serious rescheduling.
It is in the middle of tough stretch where it has been asked to play six games in just over three weeks, so the Highlanders will be the fresher squad.
Moana Pasifika lost 32-19 to the Blues at Mount Smart Stadium on Tuesday and was well beaten 46-16 by the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday.
The Blues’ win was overshadowed by a red card for winger Caleb Clarke.
He was sent off when his knee connected with the head Moana Pasifika opposite Tomasi Alosio as he went up to make a charge down. Clarke now faces a trip to the judiciary.
There was a run of red cards during the week. Blues prop Nepo Laulala got sent from the field in Tuesday’s game against Moana Pasifika.
Crusaders hooker Shilo Klein made a high cleanout on Highlanders prop Ethan de Groot.
Reds loose forward Tuaina Tualima was also red carded for a high shot on Brumbies front rower James Slipper.
The Reds beat the previously unbeaten Brumbies 21-7 Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night to move into a share of top spot.
They have 26 points each from seven games. The Crusaders (23 points) have a match in hand, with the Blues (22 points) in fourth spot with five wins from six games.
The Waratahs had a 38-14 win against Fiji Drua (six points, 10th place) on the Gold Coast on Friday night and are nestled in fifth spot with 20 points.
Yesterday the Chiefs (18 points) held off the Hurricanes (10 points) to win 30-29 in Wellington.
The Chiefs (sixth place) had led 30-15 but tries to the Savea brothers, Julian and Ardie, set up a tense finish.
The Hurricanes remain in eighth place, with the Force (12 points) in seventh and the Rebels (six points) in ninth.
Republished courtesy of the Otago Daily Times