Sopoaga gets his points across for record feat

Malakai Fekitoa's first-half try got the Highlanders back in the match after trailing 13-3 early.
Malakai Fekitoa's first-half try got the Highlanders back in the match after trailing 13-3 early.
The Highlanders pile on prop Kane Hames after his try after the siren in the first half.
The Highlanders pile on prop Kane Hames after his try after the siren in the first half.
Lima Sopoaga kicks a first-half penalty against the Sharks.
Lima Sopoaga kicks a first-half penalty against the Sharks.
The Sharks celebrate Marcell Coetzee's second-half try against the Highlanders.
The Sharks celebrate Marcell Coetzee's second-half try against the Highlanders.
Highlanders fans cheer on their team in Christchurch in their round 19 Super Rugby game against the Crusaders.
Highlanders fans cheer on their team in Christchurch in their round 19 Super Rugby game against the Crusaders.
Highlanders lock Elliot Dixon reaches high to claim the ball in a lineout against the Crusaders.
Highlanders lock Elliot Dixon reaches high to claim the ball in a lineout against the Crusaders.
Shane Christie encourages his Highlanders teammates in their round 19 Super Rugby match against the Crusaders.
Shane Christie encourages his Highlanders teammates in their round 19 Super Rugby match against the Crusaders.
Highlanders prop Chris King looks on in disgust as the Crusaders look to snare three points in their round 19 Super Rugby clash.
Highlanders prop Chris King looks on in disgust as the Crusaders look to snare three points in their round 19 Super Rugby clash.
Shane Christie holds on for all money as he tries to bring down Kieron Fonotia in a tackle in the Highlanders' round 19 match against the Crusaders.
Shane Christie holds on for all money as he tries to bring down Kieron Fonotia in a tackle in the Highlanders' round 19 match against the Crusaders.
Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu scores a try in the round 18 match against the Highlanders at Sydney's Allianz Stadium.
Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu scores a try in the round 18 match against the Highlanders at Sydney's Allianz Stadium.
Waratahs  five-eighth Bernard Foley is tackled by Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa.
Waratahs five-eighth Bernard Foley is tackled by Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa.
Waratahs winger Alofa Alofa offloads the ball in a tackle during his side's 44-16 win over the Highlanders.
Waratahs winger Alofa Alofa offloads the ball in a tackle during his side's 44-16 win over the Highlanders.
Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu celebrates scoring a try against the Highlanders.
Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu celebrates scoring a try against the Highlanders.
HARD TO STOP: The Crusaders will keeping a close watch on Waratahs dangerman Israel Folau, pictured fending off the Highlanders’ Canterbury wing Patrick Osborne.
HARD TO STOP: The Crusaders will keeping a close watch on Waratahs dangerman Israel Folau, pictured fending off the Highlanders’ Canterbury wing Patrick Osborne.
Liam Sopoaga of the Highlanders prepares to pass the ball during his side's clash with the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Liam Sopoaga of the Highlanders prepares to pass the ball during his side's clash with the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Tom Franklin of the Highlanders on the charge during his side's round 17 Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Tom Franklin of the Highlanders on the charge during his side's round 17 Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Bundee Aki of the Chiefs looks to take the high ball during his side's 29-25 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Bundee Aki of the Chiefs looks to take the high ball during his side's 29-25 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Gareth Anscombe of Chiefs on the attack during his side's round 17 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Gareth Anscombe of Chiefs on the attack during his side's round 17 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Tim Nanai-Williams scores a try for the Chiefs during their round 17 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Tim Nanai-Williams scores a try for the Chiefs during their round 17 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Tanerau Latimer of the Chiefs makes a break during his side's Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Tanerau Latimer of the Chiefs makes a break during his side's Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Gareth Evans of the Highlanders on the charge during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions.
Gareth Evans of the Highlanders on the charge during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions.
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders on the attack during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions.
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders on the attack during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions.
Hayden Parker of the Highlanders kicks a penalty during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions .
Hayden Parker of the Highlanders kicks a penalty during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions .
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders puts in a fend during Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions.
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders puts in a fend during Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions.
 Kurt Coleman of the Stormers during the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Highlanders.
Kurt Coleman of the Stormers during the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Highlanders.
 Duane Vermeulen of the Stormers in action during the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Highlanders.
Duane Vermeulen of the Stormers in action during the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Highlanders.
Aaron Smith of the Highlanders in action.
Aaron Smith of the Highlanders in action.
Aaron Smith of the Highlanders in action during the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Highlanders.
Aaron Smith of the Highlanders in action during the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Highlanders.
Ben Smith of the Highlanders taking a high ball.
Ben Smith of the Highlanders taking a high ball.
Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders during the Super Rugby match between the Sharks and Highlanders.
Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders during the Super Rugby match between the Sharks and Highlanders.
Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders in action during the Super Rugby match between the Sharks and Highlanders.
Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders in action during the Super Rugby match between the Sharks and Highlanders.
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders looking to attack SP Marais of the Sharks.
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders looking to attack SP Marais of the Sharks.
Gareth Evan, with the support of Liam Coltman, makes a charge for the Highlanders against the Bulls.
Gareth Evan, with the support of Liam Coltman, makes a charge for the Highlanders against the Bulls.
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders on the attack against the Bulls.
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders on the attack against the Bulls.
A grizzled Brad Thorn charges at Bulls lock Phillip Van Der Merwe.
A grizzled Brad Thorn charges at Bulls lock Phillip Van Der Merwe.
Jan Serfontein makes a break for the Bulls in Dunedin as the Highlanders defends scramble back.
Jan Serfontein makes a break for the Bulls in Dunedin as the Highlanders defends scramble back.
Kiwi born Jason Woodward of the Rebels fends off the Highlanders' Shaun Treeby during their teams' clash in Dunedin.
Kiwi born Jason Woodward of the Rebels fends off the Highlanders' Shaun Treeby during their teams' clash in Dunedin.
Richard Buckman of the Highlanders and Bryce Hegarty of the Melbourne Rebels dance in mid air for possession of the ball.
Richard Buckman of the Highlanders and Bryce Hegarty of the Melbourne Rebels dance in mid air for possession of the ball.
Ben Smith tests out the Rebels' defence in Dunedin.
Ben Smith tests out the Rebels' defence in Dunedin.
Highlander Kurt Baker is hit hard in a tackle by Sean McMahon of the Rebels.
Highlander Kurt Baker is hit hard in a tackle by Sean McMahon of the Rebels.
Lima Sopoaga spins a pass out against the Blues in Auckland.
Lima Sopoaga spins a pass out against the Blues in Auckland.
Kane Hames of the Highlanders makes a break against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland.
Kane Hames of the Highlanders makes a break against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland.
Shane Christie gets the ball away under pressure from the Blues' defence.
Shane Christie gets the ball away under pressure from the Blues' defence.
Joe Wheeler of the Highlanders, left, and Ma'a Nonu of the Blues embrace after the full time whistle at Eden Park.
Joe Wheeler of the Highlanders, left, and Ma'a Nonu of the Blues embrace after the full time whistle at Eden Park.
Elliott Dixon hugs Malakai Fekitoa after his second half try at Dunedin Stadium.
Elliott Dixon hugs Malakai Fekitoa after his second half try at Dunedin Stadium.
Replacement halfback Fumiaki Tanaka sends the Highlanders' backline on its way.
Replacement halfback Fumiaki Tanaka sends the Highlanders' backline on its way.
Shaun Treeby reacts after his first-half try from an Aaron Smith grubber kick.
Shaun Treeby reacts after his first-half try from an Aaron Smith grubber kick.
Nasi Manu charges into a Western Force defender.
Nasi Manu charges into a Western Force defender.
Highlanders wing Kurt Baker tries to break a Force tackle.
Highlanders wing Kurt Baker tries to break a Force tackle.
The Highlanders' disappointment is written on the face of replacement halfback Fumiaki Tanaka.
The Highlanders' disappointment is written on the face of replacement halfback Fumiaki Tanaka.
Highlanders No 7 John Hardie runs around his opposite Tanerau Latimer.
Highlanders No 7 John Hardie runs around his opposite Tanerau Latimer.
Highlanders second-five Shaun Treeby sends a skip-pass wide against the Chiefs.
Highlanders second-five Shaun Treeby sends a skip-pass wide against the Chiefs.
Highlanders back Richard Buckman misjudges a high-ball against the Chiefs.
Highlanders back Richard Buckman misjudges a high-ball against the Chiefs.
Aaron Smith fires out a pass from a ruck to Lima Sopoaga.
Aaron Smith fires out a pass from a ruck to Lima Sopoaga.
Highlanders halfback general Aaron Smith barks out the orders.
Highlanders halfback general Aaron Smith barks out the orders.
Ben Smith of the Highlanders, right, charges at the Blues' Piri Weepu.
Ben Smith of the Highlanders, right, charges at the Blues' Piri Weepu.
Patrick Osborne looks to offload against the Blues in Dunedin.
Patrick Osborne looks to offload against the Blues in Dunedin.
Malakai Fekitoa looks to evade the Blues' tacklers.
Malakai Fekitoa looks to evade the Blues' tacklers.

In all the excitement of the Highlanders' vital 29-25 win over the Chiefs in Dunedin on Saturday, Lima Sopoaga's record-breaking feats almost went unremarked.

Even Sopoaga and the man whose record he broke were unaware until being told about it by the media.

"For me, the season has been just about staying on the park and trying to rectify a few things from last season," Sopoaga said.

LIMA SOPOAGA: Southland's No 10 will be up against Highlanders team-mate Hayden Parker when the Stags face Otago on Saturday.
LIMA SOPOAGA: Southland's No 10 will be up against Highlanders team-mate Hayden Parker when the Stags face Otago on Saturday.

"I'd rather have the win than any points-scoring record."

Highlanders assistant coach Tony Brown, who previously held the mark with 150 points - from the same number of games - in 2000 was about as disinterested as anyone can be that the mark had been broken.

"Lima's had a great season and deserves to break the record. We've got a few games left so hopefully, he can add a few more points to it."

Having a consistent goal-kicker has been one of the reasons for the Highlanders' resurgence this year, said Brown, whose record of 857 points for the franchise will stand for a long time.

Sopoaga is averaging 13 points a game.

"Both Lima and Quasi [Hayden Parker] have kicked accurately this year. I'm pretty sure they are well over 85 per cent, which is as good as anyone in Super Rugby."

Sopoaga, who managed to string together only 28 games in his first three seasons, has now played 12 of the Highlanders' 14 games this season.

After two rocky performances in his comeback from an ankle injury, Sopoaga was much more assured against the Chiefs.

"I think I did my job as best as I could. I missed touch once, but I didn't let that compound and I did the things the coaches asked of me during the week so I'm pretty happy with that." Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph said Sopoaga's goal kicking could not be underestimated.

"Consistent goal-kicking has been a real growth for us.

"What it does is it keeps you in the game. It allows you to chase a game, or put a lot of pressure on a team and makes them take more risks."

Goal kicking aside, it was the Highlanders' second try against the Chiefs that opposition teams will go back to this week.

A Brayden Mitchell turnover inside the Highlanders 22m would have been a good option to kick in such a tight game with the scores tied at 20-20.

Instead the ball was passed wide to a rampaging Malakai Fekitoa who fed Richard Buckman.

Buckman's last pass to Ben Smith was perfectly delayed and the result was a game-deciding try but the vision, the decision-making and the belief on display in that one movement bode well for the Highlanders during the next fortnight. The Highlanders' eighth win of the season lifted them to second in the New Zealand conference on points differential behind the Crusaders, and fourth overall.

One more win from their remaining games, against the Waratahs in Sydney on Sunday, or the Crusaders in Christchurch the following week, would be enough to book them a spot in the post-season for the first time since 2002.

 

Highlanders season points record: 157* Lima Sopoaga (2014) 150 Tony Brown (2000) 142 Willie Walker (2003) 141 Tony Brown (2002) 122 Tony Brown (2001) 111 Israel Dagg (2010) 108 Tony Brown (1999) 107 Ben Blair (2005, 2006) 104 Tony Brown (2004) 91 Simon Culhane (1998)

The Southland Times