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Highlanders Too Good As Bulls Suffer First Loss in the Super 14

DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 21:  Israel Dagg of the Highlanders makes a break during the round six Super 14 match between the Highlanders and the Cheetahs at Carisbrook on March 21, 2009 in Dunedin, New Zealand.  (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
Jeff CheshireAnalyst IIMarch 28, 2009

The Highlanders have beaten the Bulls 36-12 in Palmerston North in round seven of the Super 14.

The Highlanders went into the match as underdogs, having won only two of their previous six games, but they were all over the Bulls right from the word go on Saturday night.

A quick start from the Highlanders saw them to a 21-5 lead at half time. But with a strong wind behind them in the second half, the Bulls were not out of the game by any means.

It was the performance in the second half by the Highlanders that ultimately separated the two teams. Brutal defence made sure the Bulls only crossed the line, once while the Highlanders scored 15 points through two tries, a conversion and a penalty.

Some of the tackles made by the Highlanders showed just how much they wanted the win and they defended their on their own line successfully a number of times.

The Highlanders put pressure on the Bulls the whole game, and it showed, as the Bulls were forced into making errors and turning the ball over at crucial times.

The Highlanders also succeeded in gaining 13 turnovers at the breakdown most of which can be linked back to the work of star flanker Adam Thompson who had yet another magnificent game.

In the backs, the Highlanders always looked dangerous while the Bulls seemed to lack composure, giving away too much ball and not taking some chances which should have been turned into tries.

Jimmy Cowan directed play well and made some truly sensational tackles while making some good runs and putting in some well-placed kicks. Israel Dagg took some brilliant high balls while making some dangerous runs and finished well.

The win is the Highlanders second in a row after beating the Cheetahs last week at Carisbrook. This is sure to boost confidence in the Highlanders camp and with a bye next week, expect them to come out firing against the Reds in Invercargill in two weeks time.

As for the Bulls, they continue on to Christchurch to take on the Crusaders, where they will be looking to get their campaign back on track.

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