Highlanders fight for playoffs with 49-12 win vs Waratahs
INVERCARGILL, New Zealand (AP) — The Dunedin-based Highlanders preserved their slim hopes of a place in the Super Rugby quarterfinals with a 49-12 bonus-point win on Friday over the New South Wales Waratahs, who found themselves finally shut out of the playoffs.
The Highlanders scored six tries, including a penalty try, to lead 42-7 by halftime.
The win lifted them to fifth place in the overall table, with the top eight teams qualifying for the quarterfinals. With five matches remaining in this weekend’s final round, the Highlanders can still be shuffled back out of the playoffs and must now sweat on the outcome of those games.
“Obviously we knew we needed to score tries and get a good win to give ourselves any sort of chance,” Highlanders captain Luke Whitelock said. “We’ve done our part. The guys were obviously focused on that and they went out and played some bloody good footy.”
The Waratahs needed a bonus-point win to have even a small chance of remaining in the playoff race.
The Hamilton, New Zealand-based Chiefs officially ended the Melbourne Rebels’ playoff chances later Friday with a 59-8 win.
The Rebels only needed to win to finish in the top eight and secure its first playoff spot. It followed the team’s 66-0 loss last week to the reigning champion Crusaders.
The Chiefs’ bonus-point win meant the Waikato side remained alive in the finals hunt, with their spot to be determined by other results over the weekend.
In the final match Friday, the Jaguares led 14-6 at halftime and ran away with the match with six second-half tries to beat the Sunwolves 52-10 at Buenos Aires.
The Jaguares clinched first place in the South African conference last weekend and will host a quarterfinal next weekend. The Sunwolves did not make the playoffs.