It was not the best game we have ever saw from two New Zealand teams but the Highlanders battled through and took their first win of the season when they beat the Blues 16-12 on Saturday.
With both teams going out for a win it would have always been the Highlanders wanting it a bit more because they have not register a win this year.
There was a lot of kicking from the Highlanders first up and some not finding the target but they kept the Blues under pressure with it.
The Highlanders had the early territorial advantage but handling errors did not help them on attack. Their scrum seemed solid as they dominated it in the early part of the match.
It was the Highlanders that put the first points on the board with a penalty and took not long to score their first try. It was poor defending against the high ball from Blues and gave the Highlanders and early 10-0 lead.
The Blues got on the board through a penalty and then kept some pressure on the Highlanders in their twenty two. That reduced the lead for the Highlanders to 10-6 after 31 min.
With plenty of kicking in the first half the game just never got going and add to that poor handling from both teams it was one of the worst New Zealand derbies we have seen for a long time.
There were 36 kicks in the first half and added to that 19 handling errors then one can see why this game did not lived up to expectations.
96% Tackling completion for both teams in that first half may be a reason for all the handling errors but not an excuse.
The teams went into the break with the Highlanders leading 10-6.
The kicking did not stop in the second half and it was again the Highlanders that had the better advantage of it and got and early penalty to extend the lead to 13-6.
The Blues got their first points in the second half also through a penalty to make the scores 13-9 after 50 min.
Both teams made more handlings errors making this a stop start affair which was not pretty. At least the defense of both teams was good but that was about it.
The Blues could put some pressure on Highlanders playing in the Highlanders half. Forcing a penalty, they opted to go for points to reduce the lead to 13-12 with 10 min to go.
It took not long for the Highlanders to hit back with another penalty to take the lead to 16-12.
The Blues had the chance to win the game but a true picture of the poor handling and attack of this game ended with the Blues knocking the ball on two meters from the line.
That gave the Highlanders their first win of the season. With 53 handling errors, it speaks volumes of the quality that was display by both teams in this match.
The two teams kicked 66 times in the match and most of it was aimless and poor. The defence was the one aspect in the match that was good with both teams tackling completion in the 90%.
At the end the Highlanders were able to hold on with a 16-12 win and their first of the season.
Pens: West 3, Francis
Pens: Sopoaga 2
Yellow Card: Evans