Jamie Joseph will not hit panic button

19:37, Mar 10 2013
Highlanders v Chiefs
Lima Sopoaga lines up a kick during the Highlanders opening round game against the Chiefs.
Highlanders v Chiefs
Highlanders captain Hosea Gear dives over for a try during his side's opening round loss to the Chiefs.
Highlanders v Chiefs
Ma'a Nonu fends off a tackle during round one of Super Rugby.
Highlanders v Chiefs
Nasi Manu makes a break during the Highlanders loss to the Chiefs.
Highlanders vs Cheetahs
Brad Thorn of the Highlanders is tackled during the round four Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Cheetahs.
Highlanders vs Cheetahs
Jake Paringatai of the Highlanders is tackled by Cheetahs players.
Highlanders
Brad Thorn of the Highlanders is tackled during the round four Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Cheetahs.
Highlanders
Frans Viljoen of the Cheetahs is tackled.
Highlanders vs Cheetahs
Kade Poki scoing the first try for the Highlanders.
Highlanders v Hurricanes
Hosea Gear makes a break during the Highlanders loss to the Hurricanes.
Highlanders v Hurricanes
Hurricanes No 12 Tim Bateman attempts a tackled on Jason Emery of the Highlanders.
Highlanders v Hurricanes
Highlanders replacement halfback Fumiaki Tanaka looks to clear the ball during the loss to the Hurricanes.
Highlanders v Chiefs
Aaron Smith clears the ball during the Highlanders loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Highlanders v Chiefs
Kade Poki makes a break against the Chiefs.
Highlanders v Chiefs
Ma'a Nonu gets caught in a tackle during the Highlanders loss to the Chiefs.
Highlanders v Chiefs
Elliot Dixon tries to break through a Chiefs tackle.
Highlanders 2013 season
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.
Highlanders 2013 season
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.
Highlanders 2013 season
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.
Highlanders 2013 season
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.
Highlanders v Blues
Jamie Mackintosh and Andrew Hore watch on as the Highlanders lose their sixth game on the trot.
Highlanders v Blues
Brad Thorn is tackled during the Highlanders' 29-18 loss to the Blues.
Highlanders v Blues
Mose Tuiali'i is tackled by the Blues' James Parsons.
Highlanders v Blues
Ma'a Nonu's shoulder charge on Piri Weepu earned him 10 in the bin.
Highlanders v Brumbies
Hosea Gear scores what would become a disallowed try as the Highlanders slumped to another loss against the Brumbies.
Highlanders v Brumbies
Brad Thorn shows his disappointment after the loss to the Brumbies.
Highlanders v Brumbies
TJ Ioane makes a charge against the Brumbies.
Highlanders v Brumbies
Jamie Mackintosh gets an extra push from his teammates.
Highlanders gallery
Ma'a Nonu charges ahead against the Crusaders.
Highlanders gallery
Brad Thorn snares Luke Romano in a tackle.
Highlanders gallery
Aaron Smith fires off a clearing pass.
Highlanders gallery
The Highlanders warm up at AMI Stadium in Christchurch ahead of their clash with the Crusaders.
Highlanders gallery
Brad Thorn thanks the crowd after playing his 100th Super Rugby game in the Highlanders win over the Sharks.
Highlanders gallery
Highlanders fullback Ben Smith.
Highlanders
Tamati Ellison warms up prior to the Highlanders clash with the Sharks.
Highlanders
Josh Bekhuis on the charge against the Sharks.
Highlanders v Kings
Ben Smith gets a pass off during the Highlanders loss to the Southern Kings.
Highlanders v Kings
Hosea Gear attempts to break through the tackles of the Kings.
Highlanders v Kings
Aaron Smith feeds the scrum.
Highlanders v Kings
A dejected Andrew Hore after his sides loss to the Kings.
Highlanders v Bulls
Colin Slade takes a chip kick against the Bulls.
Highlanders v Bulls
Tamati Ellison talks to teammate Jason Emery during the loss to the Bulls.
Highlanders v Bulls
Aaron Smith clears the ball during the Highlanders' loss to the Bulls.
Highlanders v Bulls
Pierre Spies of the Bulls slips through several Highlanders tackles to score.
Highlander gallery 2013
Brad Thorn looks disconsolate after the loss to the Western Force.
Highlander gallery 2013
Liam Coltman charges into Kyle Godwin of the Western Force.
Highlander gallery 2013
Mose Tuiali'i on the charge against the Western Force.
Highlander gallery 2013
Hosea Gear is taken in the tackle of Western Force's Ben Jacobs.
Highlanders season 2013
Highlander Brad Thorn and Brendon O'Connor of the Blues contest a lineout during the Round 16 Super Rugby clash in Dunedin.
Highlanders season 2013
Ma'a Nonu of the Highlanders flings a pass wide to get the backline moving.
Highlanders season 2013
Ben Smith makes a telling break for the Highlanders against the Blues.
Highlanders season 2013
Highlanders wing Hosea Gear gets away from Blues openside Luke Braid.
Super Rugby Gallery
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.
Super Rugby Gallery
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.
Super Rugby Gallery
Highlanders player Ben Smith jumping in the air for the ball with Crusaders Matt Todd & Dan Carter.
Super Rugby Gallery
Highlanders player Hosea Gear being tackled by Crusaders players Dan Carter (left) & George Whitelock.
Super Rugby Gallery
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.
Super Rugby Gallery
Aaron Smith of the Highlanders celebrates after scoring a try during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Super Rugby Gallery
Hosea Gear of the Highlanders in action during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Super Rugby Gallery
Joe Wheeler, Brad Thorn and Jake Pringatai of the Highlanders celebrate at the final whistle after their game with the Hurricanes.
Super Rugby Gallery
Josh Bekhuis of the Highlanders goes for the high ball during their game against the Hurricanes.
Highlanders 2013
TJ Ioane on the charge for the Highlanders against the Rebels.
Highlanders 2013
Josh Bekhuis fends off the tackle of Melbourne's Laurie Weeks.
Highlanders 2013
The dejected Highlanders look on after Melbourne scored a late match-winning try.
Highlanders 2013
Bryce Hegarty goes in to score the match-winning try for Melbourne.

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.

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"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