Highlanders and Chiefs notch pre-season wins

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James Mortimer     10 Feb 2013     Getty Images

Part of the Queensland Rugby Union's wider brief to grow the game through the state, over 5,000 people attended the game, with last season's winners coming back from 8-0 down to put on 20 unanswered points in an impressive display at the match closed out to triumph 20-8.

It was the Chiefs second trial win of the season.

The Chiefs defence was solid, playing without much possession in the first half and conceded a late try in the first half but the second half was a different story dominated by the visitors.

Chiefs’ halfback Augustine Pulu finished off a counter-attack after an Albert Anae mid-way fumble to start the scoring for the visitors. Fritz Lee almost crossed the line but a try saving tackle by Ben Lucas stopped him.

The Chiefs crossed the line twice but the tries were disallowed, including one by Fritz Lee. First-five Aaron Cruden showed he has continued his blistering form from last year to control play well.

For the Reds their points were collected by Liam Gill who scored when he in close proximity to the line.

Chiefs Winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma sealed the result in the closing minutes of the match.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said “It was an average first-half, we made too many errors so we didn’t get any continuity, but we dominated the second half which was pleasing.”

Meanwhile in Oamaru, the Highlanders were highly efficient with a 38-21 victory, and certainly coach Jamie Joseph and the healthy crowd in view would have been impressed at the high levels of play at times, normally not something seen this early into the year.

Led by their All Blacks, Ma'a Nonu, who scored a try and had a hand in a couple more, looked every bit the world class midfielder, while the ageless Brad Thorn was all around the park, showing that special cases like the oldest man currently playing Super Rugby only seem to get better with age.

The Highlanders also gave Tony Woodcock a run, scoring six tries to three against an ultimately outclassed Crusaders outfit, that were missing some All Blacks, who didn't aid their plight when they made numerous changes in the final stanza.

It was 19-14 at half time to the men from the Deep South, before they ran away with the match in the end.