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Highlanders win Southland hitout

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James Mortimer     25 Jun 2013     Getty Images

The Highlanders are the only New Zealand team officially out of final's calculations, so also used the game to welcome back two players back from injury, with Lima Sopoaga and Buxton Popoali'i coming through unharmed.

The two teams were a mix of Highlanders players - minus their All Blacks - Southland players with one or two local club products featuring as well.

Brad Thorn captained the Highlanders XV, their final match before hosting the Crusaders at Forsyth Barr Stadium this coming weekend.

The only negative was a knee injury to John Hardie, which Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph admitted to the Otago Daily Times wasn't ideal.

"To me that was the only negative to come out of the game," Joseph said.

"He can walk around on it, he's got no history there with that sort of injury, so we hope it is not too bad. That was a game that we really needed. They were a typical Southland team, really tenacious and competed for everything.

"That was led by our players in their team. They scored their tries from mistakes that we made but the physicality they provided really gave us a good taste of what was needed."