31 May 2015

Highlanders secure Super Rugby playoff berth

12:53 pm on 31 May 2015

The Highlanders have thrashed the Chiefs 36-9 in their New Zealand derby in Invercargill to book their place in the Super Rugby playoffs for the second year in a row.

The Highlanders' fullback and captain Ben Smith scores a try.

Highlanders' fullback and captain Ben Smith scores a try against the Chiefs Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Highlanders recorded a surprisingly easy win against the highly-rated Chiefs, scoring four unanswered tries to secure a vital bonus point at a foggy Rugby Park.

The win was the hosts tenth of the season, enabling them to leapfrog the Chiefs into fourth place in the overall standings.

The Chiefs slip to fifth.

The Highlanders led 11-3 at halftime after wing Patrick Osborne scored the only try of the opening 40 minutes and then ran away with it in the second half.

Fellow winger Waisake Naholo added a second try shortly after the re-start as the Highlanders started to tighten their grip on the game before finishing with a late flourish.

Midfielder Richard Buckman dived over out wide for his team's third try in the final 10 minutes before All Black fullback Ben Smith secured the bonus point two minutes from the end.

In Australia, the Queensland Reds defeated the Western Force 32-10 in Perth, to record just their fourth win of the season.

First-five Quade Cooper made a spectacular return from a shoulder injury, scoring two tries and kicking five goals for a personal haul off 22 points for the Reds.

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