Fakatava says dad 'nearly broke TV' celebrating match-winning try

The 23-year-old timed his late intervention at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium to perfection; likewise his announcement that he will remain loyal to the franchise that took a chance on him five years ago.

Not only did his try keep the Highlanders in contention for the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs, it was the ideal send-off for his teammate and role model Aaron Smith, who was playing his final home match.

Smith sent off in style

A last-minute try to replacement halfback and heir apparent Folau Fakatava sealed the stunning 35-30 victory.

The result robbed the Reds of just their second win in 27 years in Dunedin and left the injury-hit side in grave danger of missing the Super Rugby Pacific finals.

The Highlanders meanwhile kept their own play off hopes alive as they move into the top eight.

The Reds led 14-0 early then 27-14 early in the second half, but the Highlanders kept coming.

Highlanders name team for Aaron Smith’s final home game

Smith has been named at halfback ahead of his 184th appearance for the Highlanders this week. But, the Highlanders have made an especially intriguing decision at fullback.

Mitch Hunt, who has played most of the season at flyhalf, has been promoted from the bench ahead of the round 14 clash – and will start in the No. 15 jersey.

Coach Clarke Dermody has made four changes to the starting side, including two changes in the forward pack.

Aaron Smith returns for Highlanders’ must-win clash

The Highlanders are currently second-last on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder, but would rise above the 10th placed Rebels with a win on Saturday.

All Black Ethan de Groot will start at loosehead prop again this week, and will pack down in the front row alongside Andrew Makalio and Jermaine Ainsley.

Shannon Frizell and Will Tucker will combine in the second row, while the inclusion of Sean Withy is the sole change in the loose forward trio.

Billy Harmon will captain the team from openside flanker, while the in-form Hugh Renton will line up at the back of the scrum.

Brumbies score good win over the Highlanders

The Queensland Reds handed the Chiefs their first defeat in 11 matches this season to open round 12 in New Plymouth on Friday night, the stunning 25-22 win their first in New Zealand for a decade.

The Brumbies had to dig deep to avoid another upset in the final match of the weekend against the lowly Highlanders but hit the front for good in the 66th minute after a brilliant individual try from winger Corey Toole.

Aaron Smith to miss Highlanders match due to death of father

Wayne passed away on Friday, and the Highlanders have given their halfback leave to remain in New Zealand rather than travel to Perth tomorrow for the match against the Force on Saturday.

The All Black will likely join the squad in time for the match against the Waratahs in Sydney the following weekend.

“It's probably a good time to recognise him and his family with the passing of his dad,” assistant coach Dave Dillon said today.

“It’s pretty tough to process at the best of times, so we’re just thinking of them.

A win at last for Highlanders as Force are made to pay for ill discipline

The Force, from Perth, led 25-22 with 22 minutes to play when George Poolman was sin-binned for a lifting tackle on Highlanders fullback Sam Gilbert.

That was the opening the Highlanders - winless after three games this season - needed as they streaked clear to prevail 43-35.

Already depleted, the Highlanders lost All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizzell (groin) in the warm-up and then hooker Andrew Makalio (HIA) early in the game.

Blues too good for Highlanders in massive win

Both teams exchanged penalties early in the game before the Blues went on a try-scoring rampage crossing the line four times in 15 minutes and racing out to a 31-6 lead at the half hour mark.

Blues winger Mark Telea scored the opening try and could nearly have scored the second until he passed out to Beauden Barrett for the first-five to dot down next to the posts.

Caleb Clarke used his pace to chase down a Barrett kick and score the third try.

Telea played a part in putting Rieko Ioane in space for a clear run at the Highlanders line for the fourth try.

Highlanders name new coach

Dermody takes over from Tony Brown who finishes his two-year tenure to dedicate his time to helping coach Japan ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup alongside another former Highlander's head coach, Jamie Joseph.

It was Joseph who first brought Dermody into the fold in 2014 as scrum coach and he has been an integral member of the coaching team since then.

After a brief stint in the farming machinery industry, he began his coaching career in 2014 with Southland as assistant coach to current All Black's attack coach, Brad Mooar.

Drua put on a strong performance to a packed-out stadium in Suva

Showing both determination and dazzling skills the Drua thrilled their home crowd in this historic match; their first in Suva in the Super Rugby competition. Cheers and shouts of joy erupted every time a Drua player touched the ball.

Despite their heroic effort, the Drua went down fighting against the Highlanders 27-24, in front of a sold-out ANZ Stadium.

The Drua made an electric start when halfback Frank Lomani scored the game's first try, after winger Vinaya Habosi smashed through the Highlanders' defensive line.