Highlanders on a high after Dagg exploits

Israel Dagg, the Otago full-back, kicked 24 points to help the Highlanders to a 39-29 victory over the Golden Lions in their Super 14 match in Dunedin.

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Israel Dagg, the Otago full-back, kicked 24 points to help the Highlanders to a 39-29 victory over the Golden Lions in their Super 14 match in Dunedin yesterday. The South African side were heavily penalised by the Australian referee Stuart Dickinson, who also awarded a penalty try to the home team. Dagg slotted six penalties and three conversions.

The Lions, who have yet to win a match in their seven Super 14 games this season, secured a bonus point after scoring five tries but threw the game away by conceding too many kickable penalties. "The boys showed a lot of courage and ticker when they were down in that first 20 minutes," the Highlanders captain, Jimmy Cowan, said. "It's a shame we couldn't finish it off with a bonus [point] try, but we'll take the win and hopefully kick on."

"Our discipline cost us, giving away stupid penalties and I thought their goal kicker kicked well and kept them in the game," said the Lions' captain, Cobus Grobbelaar. In yesterday's other game, the fly-half Matt Toomua scored his first try in Super 14 rugby three minutes from the end as the CA Brumbies beat the Waikato Chiefs 30-23. "Coming off a loss and going into a bye week this turned out to be a really important game for us," Brumbies captain Stephen Hoiles said. "We worked hard for that last try, even though we got a bit of luck out of it. It was a quality performance."

"We played a lot of the game in our own 22 and the pressure told when they scored off our own scrum which was pretty disappointing," the Chiefs captain, Mils Muliaina said. "I thought our set piece was a lot better tonight but our energy and enthusiasm were a bit lacking." Meanwhile, Phil Waugh, the New South Wales Waratahs captain, has told his team to raise their game if they are to beat the Auckland Blues today. The Waratahs go into the game after three consecutive wins against struggling teams, including last weekend's 14-10 win over the Western Force - who face leaders Pretoria Bulls today.

"We'll be tested this Saturday night more so than we have been over the last few weeks," Waugh said. "To be fair it [our defence] probably hasn't been tested a huge amount in the last couple of weeks, but it'll be a different challenge in terms of the Blues' ability to attack and the number of ball carriers they've got who can bend the line and break the line. "So it's going to be a big test compared with what we've had over the last couple of weeks."

In England, there are four games in the Guinness Premiership. The leaders, Leicester visit Worcester while Northampton, who are two points behind, host Wasps. Jim Mallinder, the Saints' director of rugby, said his team are focused on overhauling Leicester at the top of the table after last weekend's win in the LV= Cup final. "The LV= Cup was a good competition for us but our attention is now firmly on the Guinness Premiership," said Mallinder.

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