The Brumbies headed to Dunedin following a surprise draw with the Southern Kings. The Highlanders were still searching for their first win of the season.
Despite recruiting a host of big names in the off season, the Highlanders are the only winless team in the competition. But they could have posed some problems for the struggling Brumbies.
Brumbies coach Jake White picked one of the strongest sides possible to get their season back on track and gave a debut to former New Zealand and Australian Sevens player Jordan Smiler.
The Brumbies seemed to have put the disappointment of last week’s result with an early try to Henry Speight after just three minutes. The try came on the back of a Highlanders mistake from a Nic White box kick.
The visitors were then able to add to their score after great work at the tackle from George Smith saw Lealiifano add three more points.
The Highlanders finally got on the board with a penalty goal of their own to fly-half Hayden Parker. And he added another shortly after as the Brumbies’ discipline in their own half started to grab the attention of referee Chris Pollock.
The Brumbies then reverted to a kicking contest to keep the ball out of their end to avoid being penalised. But when they had the ball, Henry Speight started to inject himself into the game, looking to add to his early try.
The Highlanders were their own worst enemies with lineouts going astray and other errors creeping into their game. A dropped kick in their own 22 was punished when George Smith rolled off the back of a maul and dived over for the Brumbies’ second try of the night.
The Highlanders had their best chance of their opening try through Hosea Gear but he was denied by the TMO on what looked a close call.
From that play the Brumbies got a relieving penalty but with the half time siren sounded they gave away another penalty, which was converted by the Highlanders to have them trailing by five at the break.
Nic White opened the scoring in the second half with a long-range penalty goal to settle the Brumbies, with Jake White’s half time talk probably still ringing in their ears.
Christian Lealiifano added another penalty goal to stretch the lead further. The Brumbies scored their third try to Joe Tomane, who swooped on a Highlanders turnover following a good tackle from Tevita Kuridrani and ran 50 metres untouched.
With the score now at 30-12, the Highlanders attacked the Brumbies’ line but the Brumbies’ defence held out what was thrown at them.
But the weight of possession finally took its toll and Highlanders reserve scrum-half Aaron Smith finally gave the home fans something to cheer with a try with four minutes left. This cut the lead to 11 at 30-19, which is how it ended up.
The Brumbies’ win was built on excellent defence, which had been lacking in recent weeks. The work of Brian Smith was evident and deep down they will be disappointed to concede a late try and not score a fourth with plenty of time left to do so.
The Brumbies will head home to prepare for next week’s blockbuster clash with the Queenslands Reds at Suncorp Stadium.
The Game Changer
Joe Tomane’s try in the second half seemed to halt any momentum the Highlanders had.
The G&GR MOTM
With the 30-man Wallabies logistics camp squad announced, pretty much all 11 of the Brumbies named played their part well in a team effort.
Score & Scorers
[one_half last=”no”]HIGHLANDERS: 19
Tries: A Smith
Penalties: Parker 4
[one_half last=”yes”]BRUMBIES: 30
Tries: Speight, G Smith, Tomane
Conversions: Lealiifano 3
Penalties: Lealiifano 2, White
Cards & Citings