Halfback Enari says inexperience is hurting Moana Pasifika

Ereatara Enari says some of his Moana Pasifika team-mates are still coming to terms with the step up to Super Rugby Pacific.

The former Crusaders No 9 was again strong for Moana Pasifika during their 37-17 loss to the Highlanders on Friday, sparking the attack with his crisp passing and tackling.

However, the team conceded 16 penalties and Enari said the speed of Super Rugby Pacific had been a jolt to the young side's system.

"It's experience at this level, at Super Rugby pace. The more games we get, the more exposure we get to this level and I think we'll be able to take away those penalties," he said.

"Once we get into a normal playing week ... we've had a couple of storm weeks.

"We're playing two games a week. It's hard to take lesson and move on to another game," Enari said.

Moana Pasifika are now heading into another of those busy weeks, with games against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Tuesday, and the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.

It's an unfortunate reality after Covid-19 swept through the competition last month, and Moana Pasifika have been the undoubted losers out of the rejigged schedule.

But Enari wasn't looking for any excuses.

"We've got a good system, in terms of players we've pulled in to rotate through to another game .... we're really trying to adapt as quickly as possible," he said.

"In light of the short turnaround from the start of the season to put a team together, I think we're doing really well. But we definitely need to be better. We want to be winning games."

Moana Pasifika's other weakness is up front. The Highlanders made no secret of their plan to dominate the scrum and lineout, and they did that effectively despite losing key forwards Shannon Frizell and Manaaki Selby-Rickit.

"Holding on to the ball and possession, and playing in the right areas of the field is really key. And set-pieces," Enari said.

"If we can get the set-piece right we'll have a bit of platform to launch on at the moment. We're still getting those combinations in those areas."

Moana Pasifika captain Sekope Kepu had his right arm in a sling after the game, and is set to miss the Hurricanes game, at the very least.

"We knew the Highlanders were going to be strong around the set-piece," Moana Pasifia coach Aaron Mauger said. "They've been outstanding there all year. It's been a real strength of theirs.

"They've gone to the maul, and used the scrum really well. We knew it was going to be a challenge. I thought we actually fronted up reasonably well there, just a couple of technical things.

"The Highlanders did well to execute the three maul [tries], and ultimately that was the difference."

However, Mauger said that in-form No 8 Henry Time-Stowers would be available for the rematch against the side they beat last month.