Highlanders searching for elusive 80-minute performance

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Assistant coach Richard Whiffin said Fakatava demonstrated his instinct for an opportunity when sneaking around the blindside of a ruck to take the only available opening to score the matchwinner.

"The key thing we've been working on is waiting for that space to open up because he'll feel it. So he doesn't have to go looking for it.

"He understands where space is, he feels it, and you only have to give him half a gap, and he's got the ability to beat someone.

"For him, it's about playing on instinct and waiting for those opportunities."

But in looking at the game overall, Whiffin said the Highlanders were still wasting opportunities in games, and they let in soft tries against the Reds. But, there were signs of progress.

"It shows where we've been in the past few weeks with the boys tucking in. They have belief, when we get in the right areas of the field, that we can cause some teams some trouble.

"We're improving every week. We've tweaked a few things and got better, but we still haven't really put an 80-minute performance together.

"That's the plan for the week. The closer we get to an 80-minute performance, we can put the Blues under some pressure."

Lock Will Tucker is back in consideration for Friday's game with the Blues in Auckland but midfield back Thomas Umaga-Jensen won't be available due to a calf injury. Second five-eighths Sam Gilbert had an MRI scan on his wrist on Monday, which would determine whether he will be available for the game.

The Highlanders were sorry that Reds' flanker Connor Vest suffered a fracture of the C7 vertebrae in a collision with Highlanders forwards Shannon Frizell and Andrew Makalio.

"In terms of the tackle, it's looked at in-game, and it's been looked at post-game around any sort of citing things, and it's been cleared, so there's nothing we can do about it," Whiffin said.


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