Highlanders humiliated by competition newcomers
The Highlanders have continued their poor season with a disappointing 27-34 defeat to the Southern Kings on Sunday (NZT).
The Highlanders were barely in the match, with the Kings leading 34-17 with some 15 minutes remaining.
However, the Dunedin-based franchise found some southern spirit to rescue two bonus points from the match in Port Elizabeth.
First five-eighths Colin Slade's disappointing season with the kicking tee continued, missing the two ensuing conversions and a penalty to ensure they left Port Elizabeth with their ninth loss of the season.
By contrast, 23-year-old Demetri Catrakilis notched 14 points to ensures secured a stunning win in Port Elizabeth.
For the Kings, their third win of the season ensures they became the most successful expansion side on debut, a remarkable feat given their 10-72 whalloping at the hands of the Waratahs a week earlier.
They will have the bye with the knowledge that avoiding the wooden spoon is looking less likely by the week.
Having traded early penalties, it was the hosts who scored first through Watson before Brad Thorn scored his first try in Highlanders colours.
Their four point lead was short-lived, however, as Watson secured a first-half double to give the hosts a 20-17 lead by half-time.
Then a costly moment in the match.
Centre Tamati Ellison, days after revealing he was destined for Japanese rugby later this season, was sinbinned early in the second half, allowing the hosts to score twice more for a commanding lead.
The Highlanders did their best to rally and scored two late unconverted tries, but as had happened all season their run was left too little too late.
Southern Kings 34 (Luke Watson 2, Cornell du Preez, Shaun Venter tries; Demetri Catrakilis 4 con, 2 pen)Highlanders 27 (Colin Slade, Brad Thorn, Shaun Treeby, Hosea Gear tries; Slade 2 con, pen). HT: 20-17