Situational awareness need for Highlanders

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Assistant coach Tony Brown said sorting those moments out and then maximising opportunities when they occurred would be crucial for the side,.


In the second half of the Crusaders game they managed play more in the way they wanted.


"We started to put the Crusaders under a little pressure which created opportunities for us. I think it gave our guys a little of confidence around being able to compete with the best team in the competition," he said.


Applying the second half performance to the first half was around understanding what was required at Super Rugby level and being able to handle the intensity at the start of the game.


Brown said the Crusaders were a side who made you suffer when you were not on your game 100 percent and mentally.


"All of their tries came from little lapses in our concentration and things we could just stop easily if we were a little bit more in the on.


"We put them under enough pressure during that 80 minutes to score a couple of tries. If we can cut out those soft errors allowing them getting points then we're in the game," he said.


Brown said the Highlanders' ability to make line breaks, and their overall game plan, had shown them they were not far away and the process of building their game over the first three weeks was coming together. They just needed to eliminate the soft moments.


"It's just creating awareness for our guys, the pictures that they're seeing…it's just trying to execute in those moments. Basically helping each other be successful on the field, that's around scanning and communicating where the space is.


"Against the Crusaders we did some really good things. We're not far away around being really clinical on attack."


Brown said he was happy with the way his five-eighths Mitch Hunt and Josh Ioane were playing. They were both quality players and the management had said they felt they both needed to be on the field at the same time.


"I think Josh is turning into a quality No 12 and is probably something unique for New Zealand. We've always had big ball carriers like[Ma'a] Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams and those sort of players in that position so having a skill set guy and a guy who can play 10 in that spot could benefit New Zealand in the future.


Ioane was preferred in the front line rather than being at fullback. His ability to move the ball to space was evident against the Crusaders in the side's two tries and that was the skill set they needed in that frontline, Brown said.


"If anything, the Crusaders caught us out a little bit around the intensity of the game and that's just a case of playing the best team in the competition and we've got a lot of first-year guys in our team so just understanding what is required at this level is what Friday was about," he said.


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