Loss dulls hat-trick delight for Kade Poki
Highlanders wing Kade Poki appears to be in some of the best form of his rugby career, even if his team-mates are struggling to find their mojo.
The 25-year-old, who is off contract with the Highlanders and Southland, had scored only three tries in 34 Super Rugby appearances before this season.
On Saturday night he grabbed his first hat-trick at this level, scoring all three of the Highlanders' tries, to go with the long-range effort he managed against the Chiefs two weeks ago.
"I was happy to score three but getting a loss like that wasn't so good," he said.
"I think we created opportunities but they scored off two of our mistakes.
"The execution wasn't there tonight, maybe a bit too eager, a bit too keen."
Poki joins a quality list of players who have scored three tries in a game for the Highlanders, including To'o Vaega (Western Province, 1996), Doug Howlett (Chiefs, 1997), Jeff Wilson (Stormers, 1998), Jeremy Stanley (Stormers, 1998), Ryan Nicholas (Bulls, 2002), Ben Blair (Sharks, 2005), Israel Dagg (Bulls, 2010) and Adam Thomson (Rebels, 2012).
Jeff Wilson holds the try-scoring record for the Highlanders in a season, with 10 in 1998.
Poki was the most elusive of the Highlanders' backs in Invercargill in a game which was all but over at halftime.
"When we went into their forwards they dominated us a lot.
"I think it's just getting into that weak shoulder and getting into those gaps," Poki said.
"We know we've got the goods there; it's just getting it right. It's holding those 50-50s and just finishing.
"We showed when we are patient, we can finish with draw and passes."
The Southland Times