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Christchurch or Buenos Aires likely for Highlanders

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Friday, June 14, 2019    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

That will depend on how results in South Africa fall in the last games of the regular season.

Coach Aaron Mauger was delighted with the win in wet conditions at Rugby Park.

"I'm pretty proud of the boys. For most of the game we executed the plan. It's pretty pleasing, the first block in place for the weekend," he said.

The discipline around the side's territory plan had been 'spot-on', he said.

"[First five-eighths] Josh [Ioane] controlled the game very well, so another step forward for him and it was followed up by a lot of heart. We talked about winning the physical battle and we did that early on and everybody played their part so it was a good team performance.

"I thought tonight was a different challenge for him [Ioane]. We know that he can play with a dry ball under the roof [in Dunedin] and throw the ball around and show his magic, but I thought he controlled the game really well tonight so that's the most pleasing aspect – his all round game just keeps coming together," he said.

Mauger said he thought the intent the team played with was outstanding but there were some details that still needed tidying.

"It was a very simple plan for us, we knew the ball was going to be wet so we kept the ball in front of the forwards, we were physical and we worked hard for each other," he said.

"It was just really basic footy. I'm threatening to take the boys back to Carisbrook and keep playing that wet-weather footy.

"Our boys were just desperate and wanted to play well for each other, play for [centurion] Liam Coltman, a pretty special occasion for him, for our fans and everybody who is with us.

"We've given ourselves a chance to play next week and put that block in place and we'll see how things fall over the next few days," he said.

The Coltman incentive had been a big factor and the response in the first half made it appear there were 15 Coltmans out in the middle such was their commitment, attitude and work rate. Coltman had been a machine playing in 16 games this season and it was great reward for him to make his 100th game with such a win.

"Those things that we can control I thought they did bloody well," he said.

Mauger said flanker Liam Squire showed the benefits of his game a week earlier. He had been blowing about the 20-minute mark in that game and he was through to the 35-minute mark on Friday before starting to show some of the effects.

"He's going to get better and better with game time," he said.