Force vs Highlanders: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Force were flogged in front of their home fans tonight.

Here's what we learned from the 55-6 loss to the Highlanders.

1. 0-18

That's now the Trans-Tasman record in 2017.

It's been said time and time again but the gap in class is getting more concerning by the week.

There was not a single positive from tonight's Force performance.

The Highlanders completely and totally dominated every facet of the game.

2. Force dealt reality check

Richard Hardwick cut a forlorn figure post match. Photo: Getty ImagesFor all the talk of a run at the Australian Conference title, this was the worst performance the Force have dished up this year.

The attack was toothless, the defence was disorganised and the set piece malfunctioned.

A must win trip to Brisbane awaits.

3. Highlanders as good as any

After a patchy start to the year the Highlanders have now won eight straight.

That's a streak only bettered by the undefeated Crusaders but they're in comparable form to the Christchurch side.Highlanders fans are in for a tantalising end to 2017. Photo: Getty ImagesWith Lima Sopoaga back in the fold tonight, this team is as good as any in Super Rugby.

Four of the five Kiwi sides are title contenders and that is simply astounding.

4. Sopoaga eases into things

Sopoaga hasn't played for two months and he holds the keys to this Ferrari.

Marty Banks is a more than capable replacement but he doesn't have the attacking finesse that Sopoaga does.

His return off the bench was solid without being spectacular but the game was already won by the time he entered the fray.

If he picks up where he left off the Highlanders will be tough to stop.

5. Coleman keeps firing

It was a terrible team performance but Adam Coleman continued to press his case as the best lock in the country.

He attacks breakdowns with ferocious intent and while he didn't have much ball tonight, he always punches over the gain line.

Uses every bit of his 122kg frame.