Cape Town – The Highlanders
retained their unbeaten home record when they claimed a 43-17 bonus-point
victory over the Brumbies in Dunedin on Saturday.
Aaron Mauger’s charges were full
value for their win as they outscored the Brumbies six tries to two with Ben
Smith capping a superb all-round performance by crossing the whitewash on two
The result was a significant one
as it means New Zealand teams have now won 34 consecutive matches against their
counterparts from Australia with the last Australian triumph registered in
Round 14 of 2016 when the Waratahs beat the Chiefs.
The Highlanders dominated early
on and were rewarded in the eighth minute when Lima Sopoaga showed great
determination to drive through a tackle from Blake Enever before crossing for
the opening try.
Sopoaga failed with the
conversion attempt before the Brumbies opened their account courtesy of a
Wharenui Hawera penalty in the 16th minute after several of the Highlanders’
forwards went off their feet at a ruck.
Despite that penalty, the Highlanders’
dominance continued and in the 26th minute Ben Smith set off on a mazy run from
close to the Brumbies’ 10-metre line and beat four defenders before dotting
down under the posts.
Sopoaga added the extras which
gave his side a 12-3 lead but that did not deter the visitors who held the
upper-hand for the next 10 minutes.
The men from Canberra spent most
of that time camped inside the Highlanders’ 22 and in the 35th minute, Isi
Naisarani made a break from the back of a scrum on the home side’s five-metre
line before crossing for a deserved try.
Hawera slotted the conversion
which meant the match was evenly poised at half-time with the Highlanders
The home side made the brighter
start to the second half and extended their lead courtesy of a Sopoaga penalty
after David Pocock infringed at a ruck. Five minutes later, the Highlanders
were reduced to 14 men when Sopoaga received a yellow card for a tip tackle on
The Brumbies upped the ante on
attack but were dealt a blow on the hour-mark when Waisake Naholo intercepted a
wayward pass from the visitors inside his 22 before racing away to score his
side’s third try.
That try seemed to knock the wind
out of the Brumbies’ sails as soon after Sopoaga’s return from his stint in the
sin bin the Highlanders scored two further tries.
The first one came in the 68th
minute, when Kayne Hammington won a crucial turnover inside his own 22 and the
ball was shifted quickly to Ben Smith, who outpaced the cover defence before
crossing for his second try.
And shortly afterwards, Shannon
Frizell rounded off a flowing move, started by Rob Thompson close to the
halfway mark, with Sopoaga’s conversion giving the Highlanders a 26-point lead.
To their credit, the Brumbies did
not surrender and after patient build-up, inside the Highlanders’ 22, Joe
Powell went over for their second try, from close quarters.
The Highlanders were not done
though and were rewarded when Fletcher Smith scored their sixth try in injury
time to seal a deserved triumph.
Highlanders 43 (12)
Tries: Lima Sopoaga, Ben Smith (2), Waisake Naholo, Shannon Frizell, Fletcher Smith
Conversions: Sopoaga (4), Ben Smith
Brumbies 17 (10)
Tries: Isi Naisarani, Joe Powell
Conversions: Wharenui Hawera (2)
15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Alex Ainley, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes
15 Tom Banks, 14 James Dargaville, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano (co-captain), 11 Chance Peni, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Matt Lucas, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Tom Cusack, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Sam Carter (co-captain), 20 Michael Oakman-Hunt, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Kyle Godwin, 23 Andrew Smith