Jamie Joseph will not hit panic button

Aaron Smith of the Highlanders celebrates after scoring a try during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Aaron Smith of the Highlanders celebrates after scoring a try during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Hosea Gear of the Highlanders in action during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Hosea Gear of the Highlanders in action during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Joe Wheeler, Brad Thorn and Jake Pringatai of the Highlanders celebrate at the final whistle after their game with the Hurricanes.
Joe Wheeler, Brad Thorn and Jake Pringatai of the Highlanders celebrate at the final whistle after their game with the Hurricanes.
Josh Bekhuis of the Highlanders goes for the high ball during their game against the Hurricanes.
Josh Bekhuis of the Highlanders goes for the high ball during their game against the Hurricanes.
Tom Marshall of the Crusaders is dumped by Ma'a Nonu of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Tom Marshall of the Crusaders is dumped by Ma'a Nonu of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Highlanders player Ben Smith jumping in the air for the ball with Crusaders Matt Todd & Dan Carter.
Highlanders player Ben Smith jumping in the air for the ball with Crusaders Matt Todd & Dan Carter.
Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders is tackled by Kade Poki of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders is tackled by Kade Poki of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Highlanders player Hosea Gear being tackled by Crusaders players Dan Carter (left) & George Whitelock.
Highlanders player Hosea Gear being tackled by Crusaders players Dan Carter (left) & George Whitelock.
Willi Heinz of the Crusaders is tackled by Ben Smith of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Willi Heinz of the Crusaders is tackled by Ben Smith of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Highlander Brad Thorn and Brendon O'Connor of the Blues contest a lineout during the Round 16 Super Rugby clash in Dunedin.
Highlander Brad Thorn and Brendon O'Connor of the Blues contest a lineout during the Round 16 Super Rugby clash in Dunedin.
Ma'a Nonu of the Highlanders flings a pass wide to get the backline moving.
Ma'a Nonu of the Highlanders flings a pass wide to get the backline moving.
Ben Smith makes a telling break for the Highlanders against the Blues.
Ben Smith makes a telling break for the Highlanders against the Blues.
Highlanders wing Hosea Gear gets away from Blues openside Luke Braid.
Highlanders wing Hosea Gear gets away from Blues openside Luke Braid.
Brad Thorn looks disconsolate after the loss to the Western Force.
Brad Thorn looks disconsolate after the loss to the Western Force.
Liam Coltman charges into Kyle Godwin of the Western Force.
Liam Coltman charges into Kyle Godwin of the Western Force.
Hosea Gear is taken in the tackle of Western Force's Ben Jacobs.
Hosea Gear is taken in the tackle of Western Force's Ben Jacobs.
Mose Tuiali'i on the charge against the Western Force.
Mose Tuiali'i on the charge against the Western Force.
Aaron Smith clears the ball during the Highlanders' loss to the Bulls.
Aaron Smith clears the ball during the Highlanders' loss to the Bulls.
Tamati Ellison talks to teammate Jason Emery during the loss to the Bulls.
Tamati Ellison talks to teammate Jason Emery during the loss to the Bulls.
Pierre Spies of the Bulls slips through several Highlanders tackles to score.
Pierre Spies of the Bulls slips through several Highlanders tackles to score.
Colin Slade takes a chip kick against the Bulls.
Colin Slade takes a chip kick against the Bulls.
Ben Smith gets a pass off during the Highlanders loss to the Southern Kings.
Ben Smith gets a pass off during the Highlanders loss to the Southern Kings.
Aaron Smith feeds the scrum.
Aaron Smith feeds the scrum.
A dejected Andrew Hore after his sides loss to the Kings.
A dejected Andrew Hore after his sides loss to the Kings.
Hosea Gear attempts to break through the tackles of the Kings.
Hosea Gear attempts to break through the tackles of the Kings.
Brad Thorn thanks the crowd after playing his 100th Super Rugby game in the Highlanders win over the Sharks.
Brad Thorn thanks the crowd after playing his 100th Super Rugby game in the Highlanders win over the Sharks.
Highlanders fullback Ben Smith.
Highlanders fullback Ben Smith.
Josh Bekhuis on the charge against the Sharks.
Josh Bekhuis on the charge against the Sharks.
Tamati Ellison warms up prior to the Highlanders clash with the Sharks.
Tamati Ellison warms up prior to the Highlanders clash with the Sharks.
Ma'a Nonu charges ahead against the Crusaders.
Ma'a Nonu charges ahead against the Crusaders.
Brad Thorn snares Luke Romano in a tackle.
Brad Thorn snares Luke Romano in a tackle.
Aaron Smith fires off a clearing pass.
Aaron Smith fires off a clearing pass.
The Highlanders warm up at AMI Stadium in Christchurch ahead of their clash with the Crusaders.
The Highlanders warm up at AMI Stadium in Christchurch ahead of their clash with the Crusaders.
Hosea Gear scores what would become a disallowed try as the Highlanders slumped to another loss against the Brumbies.
Hosea Gear scores what would become a disallowed try as the Highlanders slumped to another loss against the Brumbies.
Brad Thorn shows his disappointment after the loss to the Brumbies.
Brad Thorn shows his disappointment after the loss to the Brumbies.
TJ Ioane makes a charge against the Brumbies.
TJ Ioane makes a charge against the Brumbies.
Jamie Mackintosh gets an extra push from his teammates.
Jamie Mackintosh gets an extra push from his teammates.
Jamie Mackintosh and Andrew Hore watch on as the Highlanders lose their sixth game on the trot.
Jamie Mackintosh and Andrew Hore watch on as the Highlanders lose their sixth game on the trot.
Ma'a Nonu's shoulder charge on Piri Weepu earned him 10 in the bin.
Ma'a Nonu's shoulder charge on Piri Weepu earned him 10 in the bin.
Mose Tuiali'i is tackled by the Blues' James Parsons.
Mose Tuiali'i is tackled by the Blues' James Parsons.
Brad Thorn is tackled during the Highlanders' 29-18 loss to the Blues.
Brad Thorn is tackled during the Highlanders' 29-18 loss to the Blues.
Elliot Dixon of the Highlanders scores a try during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Elliot Dixon of the Highlanders scores a try during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
James Horwill of the Reds is tackled by Aaron Smith of the Highlanders during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
James Horwill of the Reds is tackled by Aaron Smith of the Highlanders during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders kicks a penalty during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders kicks a penalty during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
The Highlanders hang their heads on the final whistle during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
The Highlanders hang their heads on the final whistle during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Ma'a Nonu gets caught in a tackle during the Highlanders loss to the Chiefs.
Ma'a Nonu gets caught in a tackle during the Highlanders loss to the Chiefs.
Elliot Dixon tries to break through a Chiefs tackle.
Elliot Dixon tries to break through a Chiefs tackle.
Kade Poki makes a break against the Chiefs.
Kade Poki makes a break against the Chiefs.
Aaron Smith clears the ball during the Highlanders loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Aaron Smith clears the ball during the Highlanders loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Hosea Gear makes a break during the Highlanders loss to the Hurricanes.
Hosea Gear makes a break during the Highlanders loss to the Hurricanes.
Highlanders replacement halfback Fumiaki Tanaka looks to clear the ball during the loss to the Hurricanes.
Highlanders replacement halfback Fumiaki Tanaka looks to clear the ball during the loss to the Hurricanes.
Hurricanes No 12 Tim Bateman attempts a tackled on Jason Emery of the Highlanders.
Hurricanes No 12 Tim Bateman attempts a tackled on Jason Emery of the Highlanders.
Kade Poki scoing the first try for the Highlanders.
Kade Poki scoing the first try for the Highlanders.
Frans Viljoen of the Cheetahs is tackled.
Frans Viljoen of the Cheetahs is tackled.
 Brad Thorn of the Highlanders is tackled during the round four Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Cheetahs.
Brad Thorn of the Highlanders is tackled during the round four Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Cheetahs.
Brad Thorn of the Highlanders is tackled during the round four Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Cheetahs.
Brad Thorn of the Highlanders is tackled during the round four Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Cheetahs.
 Jake Paringatai of the Highlanders is tackled by Cheetahs players.
Jake Paringatai of the Highlanders is tackled by Cheetahs players.
Highlanders captain Hosea Gear dives over for a try during his side's opening round loss to the Chiefs.
Highlanders captain Hosea Gear dives over for a try during his side's opening round loss to the Chiefs.
Lima Sopoaga lines up a kick during the Highlanders opening round game against the Chiefs.
Lima Sopoaga lines up a kick during the Highlanders opening round game against the Chiefs.
Nasi Manu makes a break during the Highlanders loss to the Chiefs.
Nasi Manu makes a break during the Highlanders loss to the Chiefs.
Ma'a Nonu fends off a tackle during round one of Super Rugby.
Ma'a Nonu fends off a tackle during round one of Super Rugby.

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph is "not panicking" after Saturday night's 36-19 loss to the Cheetahs in Invercargill but there is little doubt his team is under pressure two games into the Super Rugby season.

The Highlanders were dominated physically at Rugby Park by a big Cheetahs lineup still smarting from a 45-3 loss to the Chiefs the previous week. Unforced errors were pounced on by the boys from Bloemfontein as first five-eighth Lima Sopoaga endured a shocking night for the Highlanders - two kick restarts sent out on the full, a chip kick charged down and turned into a try to Robert Ebersohn, and a deflected pass landing in the arms of Sarel Pretorius for the speedy halfback's second try. By halftime, Sopoaga had been dragged off in favour of Colin Slade and the Highlanders were out of the contest, 30-7.

They did manage to stop the Cheetahs from scoring a bonus-point try in the second half and added two of their own through Kade Poki. Poki's hat-trick made if four tries in two games for the off-contract Stags wing.

However, the accurate boot of Johan Goosen, who added 21 points, made the difference as the Highlanders fell to their second loss from as many starts.

"I'm not panicking. I'm not sure how many games we've got left but there's a few," Joseph said after the game.

"If we can hold on to the ball and put some phases together, which was what was lacking in the first half, then we can score tries, too.

"We scored two or three in the second half and that was just on having the ability to hang on to the ball, not being too keen or [in] too much of a hurry to score off the first or second phase," he said. "There will be a couple of guys that will learn a valuable lesson out of that but, I guess, the whole squad have to learn that lesson out of the pain of a loss."

The Highlanders won most of the important stats, including forcing the Cheetahs to make four times as many tackles as the southern side.

However, they also conceded 23 turnovers to the Cheetahs' 13, and the South Africans made them pay.

The Highlanders lost Ma'a Nonu before the game with a swollen knee.

He had trained early in the week but the problem got worse and they decided not to push him so early in the season. Replacement Shaun Treeby pulled a hamstring in the second half.

Treeby faces a spell on the sidelines, further thinning the ranks of a midfield that has lost Tamati Ellison for much of the campaign.

Joseph said he had hoped to play Jamie Mackintosh in front of his home crowd on Saturday night but the big prop had been unavailable because of a sore back.

The result is a welcome one for Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske before the team heads into the Australian swing of its tour. Having leaked 35 points in the second half against the Chiefs in Hamilton, the Cheetahs spent a week in Queenstown pondering what they needed to improve on.

"Last week wasn't nice," Drotske said. "We thought that 45-3 against the Chiefs, we thought we played better than that.

"One or two soft tries [were] given away last week and we spoke a lot about attitude on defence."

Drotske and his assistant, Os du Randt, were members of the Free State team - the Cheetahs' predecessors - that beat the Highlanders in Invercargill in 1997.

Drotske said he had a good feeling when he arrived at the game on Saturday night.

Helped by a balmy Southland evening, a big walk-up crowd boosted numbers to 6300 and ensured the gate-takings were above the break-even mark.

On the field, however, the Highlanders need things to swing their way quickly.

If taking on the Hurricanes in Dunedin after a shortened turnaround seems like a tough proposition, then the following week's game against the Chiefs in Hamilton looks daunting.

On Friday night, the Queensland Reds improved their season record to 3-1 with a 23-13 win over the Melbourne Rebels, rallying from a 13-10 halftime deficit.

On Saturday night, the Brumbies were comfortable 35-6 winners over the Waratahs to maintain their unbeaten start to the season after three games.

However, they may have lost David Pocock for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

The Stormers beat defending champions the Chiefs, 36-34. Stormers star Bryan Habana, who is due to leave for French club Toulon after the Super Rugby season, may be out for up to 10 weeks with a knee injury.

Springboks star Pat Lambie landed six penalties and a drop goal in the Sharks' 21-12 win over the Southern Kings, while Marty McKenzie made his debut off the bench for the Blues in their 28-21 loss to the Bulls yesterday.

The Southland Times