Late Sharks penalties do in Highlanders

03:38, Jul 20 2014
2014 Highlanders season
Ben Smith of the Highlanders, right, charges at the Blues' Piri Weepu.
2014 Highlanders season
Patrick Osborne looks to offload against the Blues in Dunedin.
2014 Highlanders season
Malakai Fekitoa looks to evade the Blues' tacklers.
2014 Highlanders season
Highlanders halfback general Aaron Smith barks out the orders.
Aaron Smith
Aaron Smith fires out a pass from a ruck to Lima Sopoaga.
Shaun Treeby
Highlanders second-five Shaun Treeby sends a skip-pass wide against the Chiefs.
Fumiaki Tanaka
The Highlanders' disappointment is written on the face of replacement halfback Fumiaki Tanaka.
Richard Buckman
Highlanders back Richard Buckman misjudges a high-ball against the Chiefs.
John Hardie
Highlanders No 7 John Hardie runs around his opposite Tanerau Latimer.
Kurt Baker
Highlanders wing Kurt Baker tries to break a Force tackle.
Malakai Fekitoa
Elliott Dixon hugs Malakai Fekitoa after his second half try at Dunedin Stadium.
Nasi Manu
Nasi Manu charges into a Western Force defender.
Shaun Treeby
Shaun Treeby reacts after his first-half try from an Aaron Smith grubber kick.
Fumiaki Tanaka
Replacement halfback Fumiaki Tanaka sends the Highlanders' backline on its way.
2014 Highlanders season
Shane Christie gets the ball away under pressure from the Blues' defence.
2014 Highlanders season
Kane Hames of the Highlanders makes a break against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland.
2014 Highlanders season
Lima Sopoaga spins a pass out against the Blues in Auckland.
2014 Highlanders season
Joe Wheeler of the Highlanders, left, and Ma'a Nonu of the Blues embrace after the full time whistle at Eden Park.
2014 Highlanders season
Ben Smith tests out the Rebels' defence in Dunedin.
2014 Highlanders season
Highlander Kurt Baker is hit hard in a tackle by Sean McMahon of the Rebels.
Highlanders 2014 season
Richard Buckman of the Highlanders and Bryce Hegarty of the Melbourne Rebels dance in mid air for possession of the ball.
Highlanders 2014 season
Kiwi born Jason Woodward of the Rebels fends off the Highlanders' Shaun Treeby during their teams' clash in Dunedin.
Highlanders 2014 season
Gareth Evan, with the support of Liam Coltman, makes a charge for the Highlanders against the Bulls.
Highlanders 2014 season
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders on the attack against the Bulls.
Highlanders 2014 season
A grizzled Brad Thorn charges at Bulls lock Phillip Van Der Merwe.
Highlanders 2014 season
Jan Serfontein makes a break for the Bulls in Dunedin as the Highlanders defends scramble back.
Highlanders 2014 season
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders looking to attack SP Marais of the Sharks.
Highlanders 2014 season
Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders in action during the Super Rugby match between the Sharks and Highlanders.
Highlanders 2014 season
Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders during the Super Rugby match between the Sharks and Highlanders.
Highlanders 2014 season
Ben Smith of the Highlanders taking a high ball.
Highlanders 2014 season
Aaron Smith of the Highlanders in action during the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Highlanders.
Highlanders 2014 season
Aaron Smith of the Highlanders in action.
Highlanders 2014 season
Duane Vermeulen of the Stormers in action during the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Highlanders.
Highlanders 2014 season
Kurt Coleman of the Stormers during the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Highlanders.
Highlanders 2014 season
Gareth Evans of the Highlanders on the charge during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions.
Highlanders 2014 season
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders on the attack during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions.
Highlanders 2014 season
Hayden Parker of the Highlanders kicks a penalty during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions .
Highlanders 2014 season
Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders puts in a fend during Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions.
Tanerau Latimer
Tanerau Latimer of the Chiefs makes a break during his side's Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Bundee Aki
Bundee Aki of the Chiefs looks to take the high ball during his side's 29-25 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Tim Nanai-Williams
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.
Gareth Anscombe
Gareth Anscombe of Chiefs on the attack during his side's round 17 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Tom Franklin
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.
Liam Sopoaga
Liam Sopoaga of the Highlanders prepares to pass the ball during his side's clash with the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Sekope Kepu
Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu scores a try in the round 18 match against the Highlanders at Sydney's Allianz Stadium.
 Israel Folau
HARD TO STOP: The Crusaders will keeping a close watch on Waratahs dangerman Israel Folau, pictured fending off the Highlanders’ Canterbury wing Patrick Osborne.
Alofa Alofa
Waratahs winger Alofa Alofa offloads the ball in a tackle during his side's 44-16 win over the Highlanders.
Bernard Foley
Waratahs five-eighth Bernard Foley is tackled by Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa.
Sekope Kepu
Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu celebrates scoring a try against the Highlanders.
Highlanders fans
Highlanders fans cheer on their team in Christchurch in their round 19 Super Rugby game against the Crusaders.
Highlanders fans
Highlanders lock Elliot Dixon reaches high to claim the ball in a lineout against the Crusaders.
Highlanders fans
Shane Christie encourages his Highlanders teammates in their round 19 Super Rugby match against the Crusaders.
Highlanders fans
Highlanders prop Chris King looks on in disgust as the Crusaders look to snare three points in their round 19 Super Rugby clash.
Highlanders fans
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.
Marcell Coetzee
The Sharks celebrate Marcell Coetzee's second-half try against the Highlanders.
Malakai Fekitoa
Malakai Fekitoa's first-half try got the Highlanders back in the match after trailing 13-3 early.
Kane Hames
The Highlanders pile on prop Kane Hames after his try after the siren in the first half.
Lima Sopoaga
Lima Sopoaga kicks a first-half penalty against the Sharks.

The Highlanders' 2014 Super Rugby season is over.

Jamie Joseph's boys put up a brave effort against the Sharks in Durban, South Africa but a performance inspired by a dominant scrum pushed the Sharks to a 31-27 win.

The victory means the Crusaders will host the Sharks in one semifinal next Saturday night while the NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies will square-off in an all-Australian semifinal in Sydney.

The Sharks opened the scoring against the Highlanders after just two minutes with a Francois Steyn penalty.

The opening 10 minutes revolved around kicking and scrum resets until in the 12th minute the Sharks really asserted their dominance.

They ploughed over the top of a Highlanders scrum and as a result the Highlanders were penalised.

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The Sharks kicked the ball into the corner and from the lineout flanker Marcell Coetzee scored and with the Steyn extras the home team had pushed out to a 10-nil lead in the first quarter of this game.

At that point the Highlanders looked stunned and looking down the barrel of a heavy defeat.

It looked like it was about to get much worse when hooker Ged Robinson missed the mark with a throw 10m from the Highlanders line.

As a result the Sharks mounted an attack which led to what looked to be a try by Sharks prop Jannie du Plessis but the TMO made the call that he had made a double movement in the quest to score.

In the 24th minute the Highlanders were able to register their first points of the match with a Lima Sopoaga penalty after the Sharks were penalised for being off-side.

Just a matter of minutes latter the Sharks grabbed the points back when the Highlanders were penalised for infringing at dominant Sharks maul and the Steyn penalty made it 13-3 with 12 to play in the first half.

Remarkably though the Highlanders were to lead at halftime when they produced a impressive passage of play.

It was sparked by one of the Highlanders best in 2014, Malaki Fekitoa.

The Highlanders centre received a nice pass from Ben Smith and sprinted close to 40m evading the Sharks defence to score.

Then with time up in the first half Smith started a long range attack from deep inside his own half which eventually lead to a try to prop Kane Hames as the Highlanders held an unlikely 17-13 lead at halftime.

Early in the second half the Sharks had a chance to close the gap when awarded a penalty but instead backed their strong rolling maul by kicking to the corner , they never however captalised.

The Highlanders were able to regain possession and field position and they were awarded a penalty of their own and they were not about to turn down points.

Sopoaga made it four from four and pushed the score out to 20-13.

However the Highlanders problems centred around the scrum and in the 52nd minute their inability to stay solid on their own ball was the downfall.

The Sharks walked through a Highlanders scrum five metres from their own line and in Shane Christie's hurried attempt to clear the ball it come free and hooker Bismark du Plessis pounced to score.

Three minutes latter Tonderai Chavahanga gave a glimpse of his pace when the wing scooted down the short side to score another for the Sharks as the home side grabbed the lead 25-20.

The plucky Highlanders team however was not done as Smith put yet another nice pass the way of Patrick Osborne who weaved his way through the Sharks defence to setup second five-eighth Phil Burleigh to score. With 18 minutes to play the Highlanders held a 27-25 lead.

Probably fittingly the ultimate say in this game yet again was on the back of a Sharks demolition at scrum time.

With a scrum five metres from their own line the Highlanders were put under plenty of pressure and in turn folded leading to the Sharks being awarded a penalty.

As a result Steyn landed the kick which pushed the score to 28-27.

The Sharks landed one further penalty as they locked up a 31-27 win.

Sharks 31 (Tonderai Chavhanga, Marcell Coetzee, Bismarck du Plessis tries Francois Steyn 2 cons 4 pens) Highlanders 27 (Phil Burleigh, Malakai Fekitoa, Kane Hames tries Lima Sopoaga 3 cons 2 pens) at Kings Park Stadium. Referee: Steve R. Walsh

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