Give a round of applause to Sam Gilbert who has been great tonight at No.15 (full-back) for the Highlanders. He brings so much pace including his first-half TRY that put his side ahead of Moana earlier on, where Sam has flexibility to play through the wings before. Plus, he’s got such a tall build, as well as a near perfect conversion kicking record between the sticks. He’s learning well right now through the ropes in order to succeed at Super Rugby level, having played for Canterbury before he currently calls the Highlanders home since 2020. Now he wants to keep on doing better, especially when testing himself v the other top 3 NZ teams again + a few Australian sides in the hope of returning the Landers as a regular Top 2 side in the whole SR competition next time.
Next up, it’s Thomas-Umaga Jensen on the inside Highlanders midfield alongside Feteuli Paea at No.12. He too made life easier for his side to get the job done, particularly throughout the 2nd-half while Moana couldn’t restart following the break at all. Every time the Highlanders get their turn in the attack, His physical offerings has caused damage to Moana’s blocks before the numbers were there to back him up & you can see some space through the gate to take away some pot of big scores. And love how he got to finish off with a TRY himself just before full-time.
And Alamanda Motuga played a huge role into Moana Pasifika’s good start on the opening back row at No.7. Not only he has the physical push to cause opposition trouble, but Motuga also provides excellent communication in backing his side up, particularly when he helped Moana secure their 2nd big touch that kept his side in contention throughout the first-half. So much to offer from Motuga who is currently at his prime (age 28) alongside some International experience for Samoa. It’s just a shame that Moana let him down when they were lost all along without any score to keep up in the back 40.