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Highlanders 'bite the mouthguard' and get win

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Friday, March 9, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Coach Aaron Mauger was delighted to hold the Stormers to 15 points and with the commitment by the side to their defence and putting their bodies on the line which had been outstanding.

"When we got in the right part of the field we were disciplined in our territory game and we created some opportunities, scored some points and left a few out there," he said.

The Highlanders had been guilty of chasing the game too early without earning the right to do that which was a good lesson for the side.

"When we chased it we made a couple of errors and they scored some points and put us under pressure," he said.

"They negated some of the things we wanted to do."

But the home team held their composure and created a tidy finish to the game to get the bonus point.

"I thought the Stormers were a quality side tonight, it was another lift in intensity for from our first game. We're well aware of three big New Zealand games coming up [Crusaders-home, Hurricanes-away, Chiefs-away] so we'll look forward to those challenges as well," he said.

Double try scorer halfback Aaron Smith said it was good to get a South African game under the belt early in the competition.

"Their physicality is always huge and the Stormers can play that direct game but also play with flair and they got us a couple of times tonight. One of their tries was turnover ball, brilliant rugby and they got us.

"It was a huge effort by our boys, a real ding dong battle," he said.

"In the middle period of the second half the game was in the balance, we were up by nine but I'm just proud of our last five minutes being able to score a couple of tries to seal the deal."

It was tough on the defence when errors and silly penalties allowed the Stormers to get close to the line and big Africans were hard to stop from 10m out, he said.

However, they would take plenty from the game ahead of their match with the Crusaders next weekend.

"The Stormers do a lot of stuff off the ball, they were taking us out and doing a lot of blocking lines, you do get irritated by that a bit but I thought the boys handled it really well. Whenever you play Africans they play a physical game and you've got to play on that line of geed up but not too over geed up.

"I thought the game was played in good spirits in the end. You play the Africans, you've got to bite the mouthguard a bit," he said.