Match Centre: Highlanders 42-27 Melbourne Rebels

Highlanders secured their third win
Highlanders secured their third win

Highlanders 42-27 Rebels, Leichhardt Oval

Highlanders scored four second half tries as they went on to beat Melbourne Rebels 42-27 in the third round of Super Rugby Trans Tasman at Leichhardt Oval.

This is third win for Highlanders from as many games as they moved to the fourth place in the table with 13 points while Rebels languishing at the bottom after losing all their three matches.

A perfectly chipped kick from Aaron Smith was collected by Michael Collins as he went over early in the second minute for the opening try and Mitch Hunt kicked the conversion making it 7-0.

The New Zealand side doubled their tally in the 15th minute after winger Jona Nareki broke through the tackle before Smith played smart allowing Sio Tomkinson to dive over. Hunt's conversion took the Highlanders to a 14-0 lead.

The first response from Rebels came around the half-hour mark when Carter Gordan offloaded to George Worth, who in turn set up Marika Koroibete for their first try of the game. Matt Toomua kicked the conversion to bring the gap down to seven points which came down to five after South African-born prop Cabous Eloff dived from close range at the stroke of half-time.

Fullback Worth kicked an early penalty in the second half to take Rebels into a 14-15 lead but it was short-lived as the Australian side lost Jordan Uelese to yellow card in the 47th minute that also saw the referee award a penalty try for the hosts. With the numerical advantage on their side, Highlanders pressed forward with further tries Josh Dickson (52') and Jona Nareki (56') but lost Billy Harmon to sin-bin in the 60th minute.

Even though tries from Matt Gibbon and a second from Koroibete gave Rebels a glimmer of hope with the gap coming down to eight points, Harmon returned from yellow card to ensure Highlanders sealed the game with their sixth try as they maintain their winning streak.

Team line up:

Highlanders: 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Patelesio Tomkinson, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Hugh Renton, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ethan De Groot.

Reserves: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Kazuki Himeno, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Ngatungane Punivai, 23 Billy Harmon

Melbourne Rebels: 15 George Worth, 14 Lachie Anderson, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Wells, 6 Robert Leota, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.

Reserves: 16 James Hanson, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Steven Cummins, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Frank Lomani, 22 Stacey Ili, 23 Andrew Kellaway.