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As it happened: Highlanders v Bulls

By David Agnew

Published: 4:50PM Saturday May 19, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

  • Mike Delany (Source: Getty Images)
    Mike Delany - Source: Getty Images

Keep up with the action between the Highlanders and the Bulls from Forsyth Barr Stadium with our live updates.

Fulltime: Highlanders 16 Bulls 11 - The Highlanders hold on for a crucial victory. The Bulls lacked creativity but were almost impossible to score against. Jimmy Cowan thumps it out and relieves the fans. Deserved win.

74 mins: Highlanders 16 Bulls 11 - TRY! Bulls set up a tense finish. Pure muscle and technique gives Willie Wepener the try. Steyn misses from right angle. Home side letting this one go.

72 mins: Highlanders 16 Bulls 6 - The Bulls come back strongly trying to rescue this match. TMO rules bad boy Greyling drops ball over line. Hosts showing a bit of malaise there.

69 mins: Highlanders 16 Bulls 6 - Delany from 40 in front makes it a ten point lead. Some huge defence here putting the Bulls on back foot.

65 mins: Highlanders 13 Bulls 6 - TRY! Given another chance and Hoeta helps himself. From the five metre scrum, three phases ends with the lock burrowing over. His celebration throw wouldn't make a quarterback but just reward for twenty minutes of ball. Delany adds the extras from next to posts.

62 mins: Highlanders 6 Bulls 6 - Hoeata calls on the TMO but is denied with several defenders blocking the view.

56 mins: Highlanders 6 Bulls 6 - Sure enough, it comes. Prop Dean Greyling gets a ten minute rest for slowing it down right on halfway. Andrew Hore comes on.

54 mins: Highlanders 6 Bulls 6 - Final warning to the Bulls for slowing down the ball which they haven't seen much of. Highlanders doing well to keep this speed up but Delany's long range effort slides past.

48 mins: Highlanders 6 Bulls 6 - Bulls caught holding onto the ball adjacent to left post 30 out. Bulls defending well against waves of backline efforts but err. Delany nails it.

41 mins: Highlanders 3 Bulls 6 - Steyn restarts. The Highlanders need a star moment to break this game open.

Halftime: Highlanders 3 Bulls 6 - Centurion Steyn ends the half with an odd miss from halfway. The home side have played the entertainers as they spread the ball with gusto. The Bulls know what they are doing and are biding their time, frustrating their hosts.

37 mins: Highlanders 3 Bulls 6 - Akona Ndungane is felled by a huge Hoeata hit, unfortunately it was followed up with a breakdown penalty. Steyn slots from next to posts on 22.

26 mins: Highlanders 3 Bulls 3 - Highlanders intent on playing at breakneck speed. Looking dangerous in the backline but unable to stop their errors. Bulls holding them at arms length well until called for slowing down ball. Delany puts his side on board from wide left. 

13 mins: Highlanders 0 Bulls 3 - No problem this time for Steyn, dead in front, 35 out. Gritty effort at the breakdown, but the home side pinged. Evenly matched at this stage with Highlanders looking good when they spread ball.

5 mins: Highlanders 0 Bulls 0 - Morne Steyn gets his first penalty chance after a sustained attack draws the infringement. The Forsyth curse strikes again as it drifts into the upright. 22 dropout.

1 min: Highlanders 0 Bulls 0 - Delany kicks us off in this pivotal match with the Blue Bulls looking splendid in hot pink. Indoor conditions again with another healthy crowd.

Pre-Match

Life could become a lot tougher for the faltering Highlanders as they host the Blue Bulls from Pretoria tonight.

Fearing a repeat of their drop off in 2011, the NZ side will have to front physically to avoid three losses on the trot and to compound the challenge their opposition's gradient is on the up.

Captain Jamie Mackintosh comes back into the side after a tough watch from the stands last week and is joined back in the starting 15 by Mike Delany with Tim Boys also gaining a promotion. Jason Rutledge gains a start with Andrew Hore suffering from a back complaint.

The home side's defence will have to tighten up significantly after their patchy display last week if they are a chance.

For the Africans, superboot Morne Steyn starts his 100th Super Rugby match and will face the ghostly challenge all goalkickers have at the indoor stadium but is coming off a typically accurate display in Sydney.

The Bulls will covet the chance to score away points to stay ahead of the Stormers and won't be lacking inspiration.

With the most of the NZ conference hitting speedbumps last round, the Highlanders will feel tonight is their chance to reestablish themselves as genuine contenders.

Highlanders: 15-Ben Smith, 14-Siale Piutau, 13-Tamati Ellison, 12-Phil Burleigh, 11-Hosea Gear, 10-Mike Delany, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Nasi Manu, 7-Tim Boys, 6-Adam Thomson, 5-Nick Crosswell, 4-Jarrad Hoeata, 3-Ma'afu Fia, 2-Jason Rutledge (c), 1-Jamie Mackintosh.

Reserves: Andrew Hore, Bronson Murray, Hoani MacDonald, Scott Fuglistaller, Jimmy Cowan, Chris Noakes, Kenny Lynn.

Bulls: 15-Zane Kirchner, 14-Akona Ndungane, 13-Johann Sadie, 12-Wynand Olivier, 11-Bjorn Basson, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Francois Hougaard, 8-Pierre Spies (c), 7-CJ Stander, 6-Dewald Potgieter, 5-Juandre Kruger, 4-Flip van der Merwe, 3-Werner Kruger, 2-Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1-Dean Greyling.

Reserves: Willie Wepener, Rayno Gerber, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Arno Botha, Jano Vermaak, Louis Fouche, JJ Engelbrecht.

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