Highlanders put Brumbies to the sword
The Brumbies 2021 season has come to an end with a 33-12 loss to the Highlanders in Canberra. The visitors were chasing a possible spot in next week’s Sper Rugby Trans-Tasman final and are still in the hunt with a dominant display in the five tries to two win.
The Brumbies couldn’t backup up their heroics against the Hurricanes last week as Aaron Smith pulled the strings with two tries himself as the Highlanders stifled the Brumbies attack in the second half while scoring three of their own in the second stanza.
In a game where it was tough to see either side after both decided to wear a shade of white as their jersey, it was the Highlanders who had the better of the early play.
The visitors had a good chance from a five-metre lineout but were bundled over the touchline by some strong maul defence from the Brumbies.
It took until the 15th minute for the scorer to be troubled as Len Ikitau scored in the same corner as last week after skip pass from Irae Simone who had set up the field position after a kick downfield into space and keep the opposition in their own half.
The Highlanders worked back into the game on the back of some penalties to have the Brumbies on the back foot and it was Ash Dixon who gave the Brumbies a dose of the own medicine with a rolling maul try.
With a bit of confidence following that try, the Highlanders had the Brumbies under more pressure from a five-metre scrum that ended up being held up. From the resulting goal line drop out, the Highlanders worked it down the left wing with Jonah Nareki involved to see Aaron Smith score to make it 14-5.
The Brumbies didn’t go back into their shell and took advantage of some poor discipline inside the Highlanders 22 and after an inital rolling maul, Lachlan Lonergan got over the line with help from his backs adding their considerable weight to the maul. Bayley Kuenzle’s conversion reduced the margin to two points.
Rob Valetini’s strong season continued as he is eyes lit up as Scott Gregory reached to catch a pass to leave his ribs exposed as Valetini crunched him but couldn’t get a reward on that play.
There was one last push from the Highlanders before the break to add more points, but their lineout maul was splintered by Lachlan Lonergan who nicked the ball and put in a kick down field and limit the damage.
The visitors had a good chat on the field during the break and whatever was said seemed to work early in the second half as they went further in front through Aaron Smith’s second of the night off the back of a five-metre scrum.
The Brumbies could barely get their hands on the ball, except for deep in their own half and were under immense pressure from Highlanders and being forced into errors.
The hits kept coming for the Brumbies as the Highlanders extended their lead to 14 just before the 60-minute mark with a well worked lineout move that surprised the Brumbies but not Billy Harmon who had the fourth try of the game although it could have been worth a look at a questionable pass in the leadup.
The Brumbies cleared the benches to give them some time in the last game of the year but they couldn’t stem the tide as the Highlanders scored again to have the bonus point in the pocket with 15 minutes to go.
The home side had one last chance to deny the Highlanders the crucial bonus point but the Brumbies lineout was off target and that was all she wrote as the Highlanders claimed a 21-point win.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Ikitau, L. Lonergan
Tries: A. Smith 2, Dixon, Harmon, Tomkinson
Conversions: Hunt 4