Force may feel all of Highlanders frustration

17:45, May 24 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.

A frustrated Highlanders team is looking for something better against the Western Force in Perth tonight.

The Highlanders are frustrated at a season that hasn't gone to plan, frustrated at being on the wrong end of refereeing decisions and frustrated at their own inability to hold on to the ball at critical times.

"I think for us we need to put in a performance that we are capable of for 80 minutes - not 20 minutes, or 10 minutes or five minutes," Highlanders head coach Jamie Joseph said.

Jamie Joseph
JOSEPH QUITS: Under pressure Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has quit his role as coach of the New Zealand Maori rugby team.

"We've only had one of those this year and that was against the Sharks. We need to put a performance like that out."

The fun went out of the Highlanders' season some time ago but the players will have their characters tested tonight and don't want to be found wanting.

After two losses in South Africa, it would be easy to think more of the trip home to family than the job at hand but that's something the Highlanders can't afford to do.

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What the Highlanders must do is make the most of their opportunities and hope that some luck runs their way.

"We have to hang on to the ball, which is something we didn't do last weekend," Joseph said.

"For me personally, I think there was a lot of dubious calls last week with regards to sanctions and yellow cards and dropping of mauls etc . . . so discipline is another thing that has been a core focus for us."

The Force have beaten the Reds and Crusaders this season but are second off the bottom of the table and in danger of being overtaken by the Highlanders and left with the wooden spoon.

"They are a grinding team. They've got a good set piece, they don't go away. The Chiefs were lucky to win that match, the Sharks, you could probably say the same thing, so it will be a tough old battle," Joseph said.

Joseph has given some of his young bench players a chance against the Force, dropping skipper Andrew Hore and first-five Colin Slade to the bench.

Liam Coltman will start at hooker in place of Hore, with Brad Thorn to lead the Highlanders, and Hayden Parker gets another chance in the No 10 jersey after impressing midseason.

The Highlanders have made seven changes to the starting 15 that ran out against the Bulls, including a new front row of Tony Woodcock, Coltman and Ma'afu Fia.

Josh Bekhuis returns after a shoulder injury to the second row and TJ Ioane starts on the blindside.

Ma'a Nonu makes his comeback from a knee injury, while Jason Emery replaces Tino Nemani on the right wing.

Highlanders: Ben Smith, Jason Emery, Tamati Ellison, Ma'a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Hayden Parker, Aaron Smith, Mose Tuiali'i, John Hardie, TJ Ioane, Josh Bekhuis, Brad Thorn (c), Ma'afu Fia, Liam Coltman, Tony Woodcock. Reserves; Andrew Hore, Bronson Murray, Joe Wheeler, Elliot Dixon, Fumiaki Tanaka, Colin Slade, Tino Nemani/Trent Renata.

The Southland Times