Tough task for Highlanders in BA

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With only one win to date in the season, and on the back of a disappointing 13-38 loss to the previously unsuccessful Bulls at the weekend, the Highlanders have lost several key players.


Injury and All Blacks rest demands have resulted in the cavalry being called into action from Dunedin to Buenos Aires.


Injury to wing Jona Nareki's back and hip, a head knock to prop Ayden Johnstone and undisclosed injuries to utility forward Jesse Parete have seen them return home along with All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith and hooker Liam Coltman who are on their prescribed rest.


As a result, utility back Sio Tomkinson, lock Josh Dickson, props Ethan de Groot and Conan O'Donnell and halfback Folau Fakatava have been sent to Buenos Aires.


Captaincy of the side will be in hooker Ash Dixon's hands. Nathan Vella will be the reserve hooker while Kayne Hammington is likely to replace Smith at halfback.


The Jaguares have, after a strong start to the competition, dropped to a 50-50 success rate in their six games. They lost to the Sharks 19-33 in Durban at the weekend and have slipped to third in the South African Conference. They are still in the top eight while the Highlanders are sharing 13th place with the Waratahs and Lions with only the Sunwolves behind them, one point back.


On home turf, the Jaguares can point to eight wins in their last nine games however, they haven't beaten the Highlanders in their two encounters in South America.


In all the key statistical features of their respective seasons, the Jaguares sport the more impressive performances.


Their goal-kicking is 80 percent compared with the Highlanders' 67 percent. Their metres made are: 362.2/347.4, clean breaks 12/9.4, defenders beaten 24/19.2, tackles 121/114, penalties conceded 7.7/9.2, turnovers conceded 13.8/12.0, turnovers won 5.2/5.8, lineout success 91/81, scrum success 85/100, ruck success 97/96.


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