Dermody calls for better execution as Highlanders eye playoffs

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Highlanders coach Clarke Dermody said that while the Blues had always had a power game, they were more disciplined this year.

"We knew it was coming, but we could only stop it every now and then. You've got to be better to stop it the whole time. That's going to be the challenge for the teams that face them in games coming up."

Dermody felt the Highlanders achieved their immediate goal of being in the contest at halftime. They were 13-21 down at the break.

"We've been up here before and been blown away at halftime, and it's a long back. So, we were confident going into the break and got a few things wrong quickly after the break. 

"And then, once you're chasing against the Blues it becomes almost impossible."

Dermody said a significant change for the Blues this year has been their ability to win close games.

"They've been put in positions in games where potentially they would have lost in previous years, but they found a way to win. That's something they've grown and it was one versus seven so we've got a bit of work to do to catch up to them."

The lesson from the game was yet another reminder that the Highlanders needed to take their opportunities.

"We did create a bit, especially in the first half and at the start of the second. But we didn't execute. We learned that against the Crusaders last week.

"They're in a different spot on the table, but they're still a good team and what we did do was accumulate points and had scoreboard pressure on them. We just couldn't quite do that tonight."

Dermody said the Highlanders were developing more cohesion. They have had time together. They are still young but growing, and players added to the team this year have enhanced their abilities.

Lock Fabian Holland had another good performance for the side and Dermody said having the experience of Mitch Dunshea alongside him had helped his game by simplifying things for him. That was encouraging for both players.